The Definition: The Mind My Bag Scam is merely another way scammers use misdirection to distract the mark and lift his valuables. Asking someone to keep an eye on your things means he’s keeping less of an eye on his own; and this particular scam throws in a twist that renders the mark almost completely vulnerable – and quite a bit poorer in the end.
The Mark: If you’ve been paying attention to this site, you know that all too often when we are talking about a mark we are using the phrase Good Samaritan. Sadly, that is the case once again with this scam. The mark is doing only what any responsible, well-intentioned citizen would do when asked – helping a fellow human being who seems to need a little bit of assistance. Little does he know that our scammers are counting on his good intentions for the hustle to work properly and his kindness will cost him dearly.
The Scam: Our swindlers, two men and a woman, are arrayed at three separate tables in a café. The mark, who has his laptop slung onto the back of his chair, is minding his own business, oblivious to the fact that before he even finishes his cup of tea, he will be missing his computer and all its precious files.
The action begins with our pretty young lady scammer seated at a table in front of the mark; one gentleman thief off to the side; and the final con at a separate table behind the eventual victim. Getting the attention of the mark, the female thief innocently inquires if he would be so kind as to mind her shopping bag, which appears to be bursting with valuable merchandise. Being the Good Samaritan that he is, the mark agrees, and the plot is now in motion – the girl leaves the table and heads to the back of the café.
Keeping one eye on his newspaper, and the other on her bag, we now see that the poor sap has run out of eyes; the only thing not being watched is his valuable property.
When a legitimate female patron of the shop starts to walk out the door, scammer #2, seated to the side, waits till she is just out to the sidewalk, then rushes to pick up the bag left by the female con. He “inadvertently” thinks that the shopping bag belongs to female who just left. As he rushes towards the door to return the “forgotten” property, the mark now springs into action, leaves his table, and hurries after con #2 to inform him that he has made a mistake – the bag he picked up does NOT belong to the girl he is trying to return it to, it belongs to a different girl who has left the table for a moment.
“Innocent mistake”. “Just trying to do a good deed”. “Could’ve happened to anybody”. “Sorry ‘bout that, I thought it belonged to her”. “No harm done, then”.
Proud for having performed his duty to society and rescued the property of the fair damsel from the clutches of a well-meaning, but mistaken, fellow do-gooder, the mark returns the shopping bag to the proper chair – and returns to his seat.
What the poor sap didn’t see was that while he was focused on going after con #2 to retrieve the bag, the scammer who was sitting behind him quickly stood up with his coat over his arm, walked directly behind the mark’s chair, boosted the laptop, secreted it under his coat, and strode gracefully out the door.
The real hustle. Con artistry at its most dastardly, yet again.
The Lesson Learned: As foolproof as this scam seems to be, there is a simple lesson, if properly learned, that would have prevented it. We have said it before, we will say it again, and we will continue to say it until the message is heard loud and clear – do not let your valuable possessions our of your sight for even a moment. If you’re not looking at it, you’d better be holding it – or you’ll no longer own it.