LONGWOOD-HUNTS POINT, THE BRONX (PIX11)—He addresses victims by name before robbing them, and now police are trying to send out a warning about the Know-Your-Name Bandit before he strikes again. They're also sounding the alarm before his methods, which seem simple, can become even more complex and dangerous.
The man, who police describe as a light-skinned Latino in his thirties, has on three occasions in the last two weeks walked up to older women and struck up a conversation. It begins with him addressing them by their first name, and it ends with them being without an item of jewelry or other valuables.
Police believe that the man learns the women's names by following them around in places where they have to write or say their names, such as at banks or post offices. Once he learns his victim's name, he follows her for awhile on the street, then approaches her as though he knows her.
Typically, the victim tries to figure out how she knows this man who talks with her so familiarly. As the conversation continues, the man wins over the woman's trust. On at least one occasion, according to police, he's been able to convince a woman that her gold chain needs repair and that he can get it fixed for her. He walked off with the jewelry, which the woman never saw again.
PIX11 News worked with a viewer named Ora, who lives in the area where the scammer has struck, Longwood-Hunts Point, to test how easy it can be to carry out this scheme.
Ora walked up to a variety of perfect strangers on the street, and addressed them like she knew them. "How you doin'?" she asked. "How are you?"
One of the women she approached ended up telling Ora where she lives. It was during an exchange that lasted all of 17 seconds.
That kind of willingness by people to share information with strangers has police sounding the alarm. The combination of this man learning people's names combined with the ease with which some people give further personal information, could allow this suspect's crimes to get a lot worse than just snatching jewelry.
Detectives encourage people, when they sign or say their name, to keep it on the down low, because this latest scam underscores how easy it can be for somebody to use it against you.