Strange visitor at the door this morning
October 22, 2022 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Someone came to my door this morning and I'm trying to figure out WTF it was about. Help me decipher?

I live in an apartment above an office building. We have the entire top floor of the building, and the whole downstairs is an office. We have a separate address from the office. Today is Saturday so it's just me up here; no one is downstairs. My partner is at work.

I heard a knock at the door. I was expecting a package, so I ran downstairs to answer thinking it was our mail carrier, but instead, an older man, probably in his 60s, was outside the door. He had a thick accent. He had been given the address of the office downstairs, and was looking for someone named Maya, a Russian woman, he said. I told him I didn't know anyone by that name, and that the office was closed for the weekend. He showed me the address she'd sent, and it was indeed the office building address.

After a minute of me explaining that no, this person was not here and I didn't know of them, he showed me a photo that she'd sent. It was a stereotypical "busty babe in a bikini" photo, and looked like a selfie in a mirror. At this point, I was thinking to myself, OH, I can see what happened here. This is clearly some sort of catfishing thing. But then he said, "look, we have the same last name" (and showed me on his phone)." She says she is my daughter. I came to pick her up. I drove my truck here from Washington" (I'm in the Midwest. by the way. So not a short drive. I can see a big white moving style truck parked down the street at this point). He also said, "we've been texting but now she's not responding anymore."

After some time, I'm like, sorry, I wish I could help. And he apologizes for bothering me and then walks slowly back to his truck.

I can't emphasize enough how genuinely this man seemed to be looking for this woman. I personally did not feel at risk in the moment, but now that 30 minutes have passed, I'm questioning whether I should have engaged in conversation (I wouldn't have opened the door unless I'd been expecting mail). It really did not feel like a personal sort of target. It seemed like he really was genuinely looking for this person and really believed they were related.

So WTF do you think this was about?
posted by sucre to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think he got scammed and you happened to be the random person who is at the address the scammer randomly used. Doesn't feel like anything different than that to me.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:24 AM on October 22, 2022 [37 favorites]

Best answer: This is a variant on the romance scam, it's really unfortunate but I don't think you are in any danger. Eventually the scammer will get back in contact and she'll have some excuse ending up with she needs some money.
posted by muddgirl at 9:32 AM on October 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Thirding that you likely got caught up in a scam. I'm sorry.
posted by humbug at 9:34 AM on October 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wasn’t this the way Smiley caught Karla in one of the John le Carré novels?
posted by goingonit at 9:35 AM on October 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also see no reason to think that the man is anything other than the victim of an especially cruel catfishing scam or that the scammer's choice of your building is anything but random. Your involvement, such as it was, is presumably done. That said, if there is a general number or front door person for the office below you, it would be kind to give them a heads-up, as he may try back there when they're open. If he was to return, it would also be kind if someone could encourage him to contact the police about what is happening (assuming there isn't a better resource for victims of similar scams).
posted by wreckingball at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2022 [20 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! My gut was saying the same thing, that this person had been scammed and it had nothing personal to do with me. But you just never know. Appreciate the replies!
posted by sucre at 10:28 AM on October 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

Wasn’t this the way Smiley caught Karla in one of the John le Carré novels?

Nope. Karla had a real daughter who was in a care institute in Switzerland, which Karla was paying with KGB money. With that info Smiley could blackmail him into defecting.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:54 PM on October 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

Wikipedia page on Romance Scams.
I am not sure how the sharing of a specific address (far away for the client) might fit in here. Not “she’s stopped answering my texts” (before the guy had realised he was a victim). Finally the “I’m your long lost daughter” line seems a whole lot more complicated to pull off than straightforward catfishing. Maybe it is his daughter, she got cold feet and gave the office as a false address. If that is the case then I would suspect she might be someone who is associated with the office as a client/supplier etc. So echoing that you should maybe let the office owners know.
posted by rongorongo at 3:03 AM on October 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

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