Monday, December 03, 2012

SELF DEFENSE: Gavin de Becker's Gift of Fear in action

Something happened to me recently that I wanted to share with the readers of my site/blog.


Superstorm Sandy NYC Scammer Alert

WHO:  Me and a dude.
WHAT:  Dude asking for directions initially.
WHERE:  45th Street and Lexington Ave, Manhattan, NYC.
WHEN:  November 9th, 2012; 12pm.
WHY:  I step out to pick up lunch.


I was stopped by a Caucasian male in his mid-30’s to mid-40’, about 5’ 8”, wearing glasses, blond hair and some facial hair, and slightly cross-eyed. He had a backpack, and a headlamp! Given Superstorm Sandy hit NYC/NJ hard, people have all kinds of flashlights. I felt it odd he had one on though, given he was out on the street in broad daylight.

Him: “Excuse me. Do you know this area?”

Me: “Yes.” He looked lost, and I thought he needed directions. My mistake = I already pegged him as ‘Lost’ and the Good Samaritan in me was ready to help.

Him: “I’m trying to meet my wife. She’s picking me up near the U.N. …”

Me: I interrupt him and said, “Oh, the U.N. That’s behind you -- that way.” I’m pointing behind him.

Him: *exasperated look* “I know. They told me to go to the Port Authority to take a bus.” He then starts fast-talking and slight mumbling and avoids eye contact and looks around and mostly looks down. I don't understand a word he's saying.

Me: “Excuse me, say again please.”

Him: “They told me to go to the Port Authority to take a bus…”

Me: “Oh, the Port Authority is a few blocks that way.” I pointed in the opposite direction of the U.N.

Him: “I know that. I was looking for help and specifically looking for a Man to ask. Women wouldn’t help me.”

Me: “What do you need?”

Him: “I’m a little short and need to borrow some money. What’s your name and address? When I get home I’ll send you a check. I promise.”

Me: “I was going to the bank. I have nothing.”

Him: *looking helpless* “I really got to get home. I need money.”

Me: I proceeded to get out of Dodge fast, checking to see if he was going to follow me to the bank.I walked away from my bank and when I didn't see him anymore, I doubled back towards my back, continually scanning around me for any sign of him.






I didn’t lie, I really didn’t have enough cash for lunch. However, even if I had it, I felt he was a scammer. I had some kind of gut feeling already.


  • He was giving me “Too Many Details” by starting off about meeting his wife at the U.N. and but then told he by “someone” that he needed to go to the Port Authority to take a bus.
  • He tried to either “Forced Team” or “Typecast” me with the “…looking for a Man…”.
  • He even threw in an “Unsolicited Promise” by promising me he would send me a check when I didn’t ask him to promise me.
  • Additionally, he was trying to “Discount the Word ‘No’” by looking helpless by making Eye Contact and continuing to ask me for money despite me telling him I didn’t have money. He avoided Eye Contact after the initial attention-getter “Excuse me.”

He didn’t follow me. I truly felt I was being scammed especially when he mumbled and talked fast. What gets me is that this scammer played off of the Superstorm Sandy aftermath. Really sucks he did that because a coworker lost his basement and car. My boss’s buddy had no power over a week and when it finally comes back on, there’s a surge and his house was burnt down and he’s homeless now.

As I went to the Bank and picked up lunch, I replayed the encounter a few times and started “seeing” the signals. Got back to the office and typed this up as it was still fresh in my head.

My scammer was "textbook" - Gavin de Becker - The Gift of Fear!!! If you've not read this book, check it out. It may help you spot the Pre-Incident Indicators like the ones I mentioned above.

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