Looks like I got scammed, but I got to give the lady credit for her acting skills.
On my way to the parking garage this evening, a tearful woman stopped me with a tale about how she had been in an accident. Jessica was all right, but her car had to be towed, leaving her with no way to get home. The commuter buses and trains were long gone. She didn't have enough money for cab fare home, because she just moved here from Atlanta and hadn't received her ATM card yet. (I forgot to ask about credit cards, but undoubtedly there would have been an embarrassed admission about bad credit.) She first asked if I could give her a ride, but she lives way out in Maryland. Jessica worried about her little 3 year old daughter at day care, she's a good Christian woman, she just moved here and doesn't know anyone. Of course she would pay me back, with extra even, she works right here in Crystal City for the Dept of Commerce, she'd be so grateful. Much touching on the shoulder with suppressed sobs. Even a brief mention of a possible mutual co-worker, and repeated mention of Officer Tate, the police officer at the accident scene.
I asked what the cab fare was. $149. Sorry, I don't have that much money. Jessica pointed out that there is an ATM nearby. No, sorry, I paid bills this week. "Can you at least give me $80, I'll pay you back tomorrow as soon as I get a money order from the credit union. I have $4,300 in my account." Finally, I gave her $20 for the subway, which would at least get her to Maryland, despite a final plea for $40. She wrote her name, address, and phone number.
I Googled the information as soon as I got home. Is anyone surprised that Lane Drive is in Virginia, not Maryland, and the phone number is a mobile, also in Virginia but based over a hundred miles away? (Remember, Jessica said she was from Georgia.) I gave her my first name and office number. I do not expect a call, although if she does, she may be surprised to find out it is a law enforcement agency.
You know, the sad thing is that scammers mess it up for people who have legitimate problems. That's basically why I gave her the $20 despite my suspicions. I can afford to lose that if it was a scam, and who knows, she might have been in real trouble.