A snake check scam in California is stunningly simple, but the power of implied authority has emboldened the thieves officials say are preying on Napa County and San Francisco residents.
The snake check scam is the sort that many might not question -- using a reasonable fear (dangerous vermin) and the color of authority to lure innocent victims into allowing criminals inside their homes.
Authorities in Napa say the snake check scam involves crooks posing as officers from animal control services. The criminals knock on doors, telling residents that the home needs to be checked for snakes.
Do they then swipe social security numbers, lift banking details, or prime the home for a later robbery? It's not even that complex -- the snake check scammers then simply begin swiping valuables from the unsuspecting residents.
The snake check scam hit Napa for the first time last week, but Raw Story indicates that the heist has been reported in several other neighboring locales:
"The [latest snake check scam victim] let the two bogus officers in, then later discovered items were missing. Sheriff's officers did not specify what was taken, or provide an estimate cost of goods stolen... The two people who pulled off the scam used the same method that burglarized other homes in the East Bay, including Fremont, Union City and Hayward. Cities along the Peninsula have also been hit, including San Mateo, Belmont, Burlingame and Hillsborough."
While the snake check scam may seem flimsy, most people don't often think twice or, even if they do, feel comfortable confrontationally requesting badges or other verification. Authorities in Napa say that the snake check scam could continue, reminding residents that genuine county employees will drive vehicles marked "Napa County Sheriff" and "Animal Services," and will wear corresponding uniforms and patches.