Authorities in Maryland have warned the public about a potential holiday scam that involves the temptation of a $100 bill left on a car windshield.
The simple scheme works like this: Drivers walk to their parked cars and, after they get in the vehicle, they notice a $100 bill in the windshield. The driver exits the car with the door open to retrieve it, only to have a thief steal the vehicle.
Karen Straughn, Maryland Assistant Attorney General – Consumer Protection, wants the public to be aware of it, as reported by ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington. Straughn said an unknown resident, during a public information safety session in Baltimore County, informed her of one incident, but Straughn said she has not seen a police report about it.
"But because it’s something of a frightening nature, if this happens to someone, we hope they will take the proper precautions," Straughn told ABC News.
A spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department said there is no record of this scam taking place in that area.
The Baltimore County Police Department’s auto theft task force told ABC News that while it has not seen the $100 bill scam at this time, “We have seen incidents where auto thieves will bump the back of someone's car in traffic. When everyone gets out of their cars, a thief will jump in the victim's car and drive off,” a police department spokesman said.
Straughn said she is aware that the scam is touted online as an urban legend, but she wants to warn the public as a precautionary measure.
There are a couple other scams involving drivers in parking lots of which Straughn wants the public to be aware.
"With the fact that the holidays are coming up and more shopping, we believe this is something that could occur in this period of time," she said.
According to Straughn, other schemes involve scammers approaching a car owner in a parking lot, asking if they can help repair a vehicle's "ding or dent" for an amount such as $200.
After the scammer completes the job, one of two things can occur: The owner will drive away and realize days later the shoddy job, such as peeling paint.
"They drive away and you can’t catch them," Straughn said. "This is something that’s more common in our [suburban] area, particularly with holiday shopping."
In other cases, the scammer will dispute the agreed amount and demand a larger sum, such as $2,000.
"One scammer went as far as to drive the individual to the bank," she said, adding the incident was reported to the police and the thief was caught.