Residents see increase in door-to-door sales fraud

February 23, 2012 4:02:52 PM PST
A warning for homeowners -- be careful when buying things from door-to-door salesmen. In West University Place and other neighborhoods, residents are reporting dozens of cases of unwanted knocks on the door. Some of those salesmen even got arrested recently.

In West University, you have to register before soliciting and the city even has a no-knock list where solicitors are not supposed to go, but it has not stopped a group of door-to-door sellers that police say are not delivering what they promise.

Dan Doughty has seen solicitors knock on his front door.

"This guy had a list of magazines and I think he was doing it for a trip to somewhere for college to do some studying abroad and we just told him no and moved on," Doughty said.

He told us the teenager who came to his door was Christopher Murphy, who was arrested for unlawful solicitation by West U. Place police officers.

The same day, West U. police also arrested Shyann Lopez for the same crime. Police say both were looking to sell magazines, a practice officers say is often ripe with fraud.

"They sign you up, give you a receipt for whatever it is you wrote a check for or cash for, and they go down the road and leave you with a worthless piece of paper," said Capt. T. Olive with the West U. Place Police Department.

Police say if you are unsure if a door-to-door salesperson is legitimate, do not give them any money. Instead research the company they claim to represent.

"Ask them about their organization and tell them, you know what, I may donate to your organization, but let me do some research first and go find them. And if you can find them, I am sure they will accept direct donations," said Capt. Olive.

West U. is not the only areas of town seeing a recent influx of door-to-door sale pitches.

A security camera from a home in Tanglewood captured video of a salesperson. Homeowners here say they have seen several groups of roving door-to-door salespeople recently, not surprising according to police.

Capt. Olive told us, "They will come in with a big bus, or big van rather, and you will see them in the neighborhood and there will be 10 to 15 people in this van and they drop them off on the corner, send them out to solicit and not come to get them until sometimes the late evening."

West U. police say one resident did give solicitors a check for magazines, then decided to cancel the check after she got suspicious.