SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) — Female office workers in one Sherman Oaks office Friday morning want other women to be on the lookout for a phony plumber.

The women in the Sherman Oaks office say they were the victims of a scam.

The man, posing as a plumber, came into their office and told them that the water in the building was being turned off — for four hours — in the next several minutes and they had to use the restroom during that time.

“One of the pipes busted upstairs,” he’s heard telling them, “so we have to turn the water off for an emergency.”

Only there was no busted pipe. No emergency.

While the women went to the restroom, the man helped himself to the contents of their purses, police said.

“Nobody at the office even doubted it for a second,” said Max Asghari, husband of one of the victims.

The alleged scammer runs out of one office empty handed. In another room, he went through a purse and stole hundreds of dollars before making his way out again.

“When she checked her wallet, yup, all her money was gone. And the entire thing, with him coming back, took less than three minutes,” Asghari said.

KCAL9’s Rachel Kim said none of the victims knew what happened for several hours — the women thought the man was legit. After talking to building management and checking the security video they realized he was not.

“A few days ago,” Asghari says, “we had a fire drill. We had a notice from the management they were coming to check out the fire sprinklers. So they did. And this in a way sounded like a follow up to that event.”

The phony plumber remains at large.

Asghari says he hopes the video will help lead to the suspect.  And he has a special message for the fake plumber.

“Getting a few hundred dollars? You could just get a job. You look pretty healthy,” he said.

If you recognize the man, you’re asked to call the LAPD’s Van Nuys division.


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