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An avalanche of e-mail crowds my digital inbox, most of it useless

The grifters?

Then there are face-to-face scams. A reader named Ronnie called last week to say she was parked at 17th and P streets NW not long ago when a man came up and started gesturing at her. "I thought he wanted my parking spot," she said.

No. He wanted . . . what? The man said something about how he had locked his keys in his car at Whole Foods, lived in the area and, presumably, wanted Ronnie's help.

"He even said, 'I'm not going to hurt you,' " Ronnie said.

She didn't stick around to find out. She kept the window closed, the door locked and drove away.

Ronnie wonders whether he really did need help. "He looked like a perfectly normal, professional guy," she said.

I think about how far down the list I would have to go to arrive at "Approach strange woman on the street." I mean, before that, I would cycle through: Call locksmith; call friend; call co-worker; ask Whole Foods manager. I think I'd even walk home, break into my house and get a second set of keys before running the risk of looking like a creep.

But sometimes people do find themselves in binds and legitimately need a good Samaritan, right? Please share your stories. Have you had interactions that turned out to be scams? Scams that you've successfully avoided? Incidents that looked like scams but weren't? Or did you lock your keys in your car near Whole Foods?

E-mail me at the address below. I promise no salesman will call.

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