Bump-and-grab scam resurfaces with a dangerous twist

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The first reaction for most drivers when their car is bumped from behind is to get out and check the damage, but now people are getting robbed in a way that bears striking resemblance to an old insurance fraud scam.

It happened in Montgomery County, Md. last month.

On April 14, a 58-year-old man was hit from behind on Jones Lane in North Potomac. When he got out of his vehicle, he was confronted by two masked men who had a gun and a knife. The suspects tied the man up with duct tape, put him in the trunk of his car and used his debit card to get money from an ATM. Police say they have an ATM photo of a suspect from the latest incident but he’s wearing a mask.

A week earlier, a woman reported a similar incident along Jones Lane, but instead of stopping, she immediately called police. AAA Mid Atlantic spokesman John Townsend advices others to do the same.

“If you are nervous about the situation, and you think it’s a copycat crime, simply call 911,” Townsend says.

A Montgomery County Police spokesman suggests drivers should tell the police their location, what happened and provide a name and address so it’s clear they won’t leave the scene.

Townsend also advises those hit to signal the other driver to follow them to a safe place to exchange information. Those up to no good will likely leave.

Senior citizens and women are particularly vulnerable to this type of crime, Townsend says, which often happens in remote areas and at night.

Advice from AAA:

  • If you get rear-ended, you should always use your judgment for the situation.
  • Follow you instincts, and stay in the car and call 911 on the cell phone.
  • Don’t hesitate to tell the 911 operator that you are concerned about the possibility of a robbery
  • Always keep your car doors and windows locked.
  • If your sense danger. and it’s feasible, accelerate and try to drive away.
  • Keep enough gas in the tank so you won’t get stranded in a perilous situation.
  • Stay on well-traveled, well-lit roads.
  • Pre-plan your route of travel and always notify a loved one or friend of your plans and arrival times.
  • Try to avoid late night driving.
  • If you must travel at night regularly, don’t carry more than you can afford to lose. One suggestion is to carry a second wallet containing a few $1.00 bills and old credit cards, which are normally destroyed or discarded. If confronted at knife or gunpoint, give the suspect the second wallet and concentrate on a good physical description to give to the police.
  • Report the crime immediately to the police; attempt to provide as much detail as possible.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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