SF police warn public about 'good faith' scam 

The San Francisco Police Department wants to warn city residents not to fall for the so-called “good faith” scam, Officer Albie Esparza said in a statement.

The scam usually begins with one of the suspects asking an unsuspecting victim for directions, Esparza said. The suspect then convinces the victim to take him to the destination.

On the way, the suspect mentions a letter regarding an inheritance that requires him to donate a large sum of money and then asks the victim to help him make the donations.

A second suspect is usually introduced at this point, reportedly to help make the victim more comfortable with the situation, Esparza said.

It's at this point the suspects start talking about needing “good faith” money to prove that all parties, including the victim, have money of their own and will not steal the money intended for charity.

The second suspect leaves and comes back with a large amount of money and he and the first suspect put the money in what they call a “sacred cloth” and then convince the victim to put in some “good faith” money, too, to show he is trustworthy.

The suspects usually follow the victim to a bank and wait until the victim withdraws money, which they put in the “sacred cloth” and then place a cloth -- secretly switched with the first cloth -- in the trunk of the victim's car. The victim is then encouraged to drive around the block as a test of trust and told not to look at the money right away, Esparza said.

When the victim does look, he finds that the bundle is actually rolled up newspaper wrapped up in a bandana and the suspects gone.

The suspects who have been pulling this scam are described as older, black men, anywhere from 45 to 60 years old, Esparza said. They are usually wearing slacks and a jacket. In most cases, the first suspect claims to be from South Africa and speaks with an accent.

Police urge the public to use caution when approached by strangers under similar circumstances, and to ignore strangers that offer good fortune or unusual offers and not to give money to strangers offering a deal too good to be true.

Anyone approached by men in this manner is encouraged to call police.

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