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Residents, police warn of door-to-door scams

A "Peddlers and Solicitors Prohibited" sign can be obtained through the city of Woodbury website. Staff photo by Hank Long

Looking for a sign of summer? Have you spotted one of the following seasonal activities: barbecue, baseball or boating? How about a door-to-door soliciting scam?

Carol Turnbull believes she and her neighbors were visited recently by a group of con artists claiming to be selling magazines to send to U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Turnbull, who lives on Crackleberry Drive in southern Woodbury said the man claimed to be a member of a college soccer team conducting a door-to-door magazine subscription drive to raise funds for his teams upcoming trip to play in Ireland.

"He was very personable, very believable, and actually described a house a little ways away where he said he lived," Turnbull said.

The man asked Turnbull for money for a magazine subscription, but when Turnbull offered him a smaller donation in check form, he insisted on cash, Turnbull said.

She turned him down and he left her front step, but Turnbull said she spoke with neighbors who gave him money and have not heard from him since.

"I did end up calling the police after figuring out that the last name he gave me didn't match with the people living in that house," Turnbull said. "But by then he had disappeared into thin air."

Turnbull said the man claimed to be selling magazines via United Circulation LLC, which Turnbull later found out after an internet search is listed on many user-generated complaint web sites as a non-existent company used by scam artists.

The likely door-to-door scam artist is not unique to Woodbury or other communities this time of year, according to Woodbury Public Safety officials.

Although local police haven't heard of the specific group of possible scam artists that Turnbull and her neighbors recently encountered, Woodbury Public Safety spokesperson Kim Peterson said spring and summer are ripe for door-to-door solicitor scams.

"It's not extremely common, but it something we do see more this time of the year," Peterson said.

Ordinance requires permit

Peterson said Woodbury police do occasionally receive calls from residents who are concerned about incidents they believe are door-to-door scams, which is why the city has an ordinance that requires door-to-door peddlers or solicitors to apply for a permit before they conduct any door-to-door business in the city.

According to the ordinance, the door-to-door solicitors are required to display their permits at all times.

"If you see they don't have a permit, you can call police immediately, as they are instructed to wear it on their shirt or jacket," Peterson said.

Some verifiable non-profit organizations like the Girl Scouts are exempt from the ordinance, Peterson said.

Those interested in obtaining a city-approved "Peddlers-Solicitors Prohibited" sign for their homes can obtain a printed copy on the city's website at