Richard Brown - Scam or Person?

What type of scam do you think this might be?

1/26/20242 min read

Richard Brown - Scam or Person?

Working in the Trust & safety space, I've been exposed to a wide range of scams. The creative energy scammers invest in their schemes is, ironically, inspiring. Like in most professions, I've started to notice patterns in my daily life. This is where my story about Richard Brown begins.

It was between Christmas and New Year, early in the evening, when someone rang our doorbell. My wife answered and was greeted by a man in a UK food delivery company uniform, with a large truck (branded by said company)  parked behind him. He held an envelope and started, “Hello, I have to deliver this to a friend of mine, called Richard Brown. But I forgot which house he lives in. Do you know him?” Not knowing any Richard Brown, my wife said no, ending the seemingly random interaction. She later told me about it, but initially, I didn’t think much of it.

However, my "Trust & Safety" instincts soon kicked in. "Could this be a scam?" I wondered. Several possibilities crossed my mind about how this interaction could be part of a scam:

  • Probing for Occupancy: This person might have been checking if anyone was home, using the food delivery truck as a cover.

  • Drug Transaction Code: "Richard Brown" could be a codeword for a specific type of delivery, like drugs. Recognizing the codeword could initiate a transaction.

  • Marking for Interest in Drugs: While carrying drugs might be risky, this method could be used to identify potential buyers, who would then be approached later.

There are undoubtedly many other reasons why someone would probe a household as part of a scam, perhaps tailoring their approach based on the gender and age of the person answering the door.

Maybe It's Not a Scam

However, there's no definitive way to confirm if it was a scam. A few aspects seemed odd and made me doubt that this was just someone looking for their friend:

  • Delivery Drivers Don’t Plan Their Own Routes: Delivery drivers are given predetermined routes at the start of their shifts. How did this driver know he would be on the road where his supposed friend lived?

  • Tight Schedules: Delivery services are highly optimized. Drivers have tight schedules and specific delivery times based on distance and volume.

What Could It Be?

I invite you, the reader, to share your thoughts. What type of scam do you think this might be? Or am I overthinking, and the gentleman was genuinely looking for his friend?

Have You Seen Something Like This?

Have you experienced something similar? How did it unfold?

This story has also been published on the LinkedIn group “Inverted Product Managers

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