Scam or not? Woman blocks driveways, asks for cash

The woman blocks driveways at parking lots, then asks drivers behind her for money, claiming she's out of gas (Photo courtesy: Kami Gallagher)

Fresno Police are now warning drivers to be on the lookout for a woman who is aggressively hitting up people for money in parking lots.

She's not simply standing there asking for cash.

She stops her car in driveways at shopping centers.

"She says, 'I'm almost out of gas. I'm trying to get somewhere,'" says Kami Gallagher of Fresno.

Gallagher had a run-in with the woman in April.

"I said 'You have enough if you want to follow me to a gas station, I'd be happy to fill up your car with gas.' She sat there for a minute, paused, and said , 'No. that will be okay."

Moments later, the woman drove away.

Gallagher took a picture of the woman and posted it on social media.

That was the first of four encounters.

Police say they've received calls about the woman, too.

In July, a woman matching the description stopped her car in moving traffic.

"On northbound Cedar, north of Herndon, in the number two lane blocking traffic," says Lt. Mark Hudson with Fresno Police. "A citizen came up behind her. She said she had ran out of gas and was asking for gas money.

"This is something new. I haven't heard of it yet. If someone is stranded in the roadway, call police right away."

Gallagher says the woman was driving a Honda Civic in April.

Now, the woman is driving a dark-colored Geo Tracker without license plates.

Gallagher ran into her on Tuesday-- twice.

"The first time she was approaching elderly women. I told her she need to go and stop scamming people," Gallagher said.

That was at a shopping center at Fresno and Friant in North Fresno.

Ten minutes later, Gallagher says the woman was blocking the driveway at a parking lot at First and Nees.

Gallagher recorded her again.

The woman spotted her, and grew angry.

"If you don't tell her what she wants to hear, she'll flip a switch on you," Gallagher said.

Wednesday, someone else spotted the woman at Jensen and Highway 99.

She was pulled over with her hazard lights on -- and walking up to drivers near fast food restaurants in the area.

When she blocks driveways, drivers usually go around her.

Hudson says this creates a new danger.

"They're putting people coming into the driveway in danger by going around this person that's stuck in the driveway. It creates a possible scenario where someone is going to get into a collision or get injured."

Gallagher says it's a shame the woman is doing this to take money from others.

"I didn't have a lot growing up... I know what it's like. I'm in a position today where I can help other people," she says. "I think they're finding new creative ways to scam people out of their hard-earned cash. Good people are willing to help."

Police say if you see the woman, don't give her money.

Call 9-1-1 instead.

They will either tow her, if she is out of gas-- or get to the bottom of what could be a scam.

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