BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It's a story that's been told over and over again in Boston, going back at least sixteen years: A sharp-dressed businessman walks up to you, saying he has a flat tire and needs money to buy a fix-a-flat, but he forgot his wallet.
He may even flash a business card with his name on it, and promise to meet you tomorrow with the money.
Generations of Bostonians may recognize the figure in this tale as prolific (alleged) con man Elliot Davis, but his latest (alleged) victim, Daniel, did not.
Daniel told WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas he ran into Davis late Saturday night near Roxbury Community College.
"He started giving me his story about how his tire was flat, and he needed to buy a can of fix-a-flat, and it'd only be like $14," Daniel said. "He didn't have his wallet on him or anything."
Daniel was followed to an ATM by Davis, and said he felt pressured into giving him $40.
"I told him I didn't have any money on me, and he said, oh, there's an ATM down the street," Daniel said. "At that point I was feeling, I guess not threatened, but I knew something was kind of weird."
Police—and many locals—are familiar with Davis. He's been spotted all around Boston, from various MBTA stations to tourist areas to the city's universities and schools, for well over a decade.
The earliest mention of Davis's alleged scams that WBZ could find dates back to 2003, when Northeastern University Police arrested him for trespassing. That article, published sixteen years ago, identifies him as a "con-artist" who had "frequented the neighborhood" for several years with a "story evoking pity," and who had already been banned from campus.
A Twitter search reveals Davis is a popular topic among readers of the local blog Universal Hub, which has posted about Davis several times (once under the headline, "Boston's own Diogenes, forever searching for that one good tire").
The Boston subreddit is packed with posts about Davis with titles like "Got scammed. Don't make my mistake," "Elliot Davis working the financial district today," "Scammer Elliot Davis still at it," and "Finally had a brush with someone famous in Boston" (the "famous" person being Davis).
Many of the threads link to a page called elliotdavisconman.blogspot.com that is no longer working; an archived version of the page shows several posts about Davis's alleged activities, as well as .PDF of a poster that the blog's owner asked people to print out and post in areas where Davis has been seen.
The poster reads, "This man has been seen in this area, approaching people & asking to borrow money to help him out. He is a con man, lying about the reasons he needs this money, and will not pay you back ... He has been known to react in a volatile manner if confronted: it is recommended to avoid any interaction with him."
WBZ NewsRadio contacted Davis by phone to ask him if he'd like to answer to the years of allegations against him. After first saying he didn't know anything about the accusations, Davis did eventually address them over text.
"I'd like to talk to you because people are accusing you of scamming them for their money," WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas wrote. "I want to get your side of the story."
"I give to people to [sic]," Davis wrote in reply. "People asking for money to eat, to travel whatever, but i don't attack them if thier [sic] story or reason isnt [sic] true. U understand. The accuser is the problem."
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports