Help me figure out the angle in this scam.

A little bit ago, I was walking my dog and a young girl - between 17 and 25 - asked me to sign up for a mailing list of some sort. Her pitch was that I could sign up to be on a coupon mailing list, with no obligation to use the coupons and with no payments, and no subscriptions to any newspapers, magazines, or other paid periodicals. She, in turn, would get donations from the coupon-mailer to go toward her college tuition.

There’s a bunch of reasons I distrust this:

1 - My apartment has a very strict no-solicitations rule, and our landlady is brilliant at shooing away door-to-door annoyances. Unfortunately, she had left the office for the day. Anybody who would have honest business would come by during the day time, with the landlady’s permission, instead of harassing people on the sidewalk at 8:00 in the evening.

2 - Why would anybody want to put the effort of organizing a mailing list for coupons for free? There’s no benefit, and if businesses want to attract customers, they can just mail out the coupons on their own. It’s not rocket science.

3 - Even the best-value deals that are related to education are transparent offers and they still end up costing money, like those big coupon books that schools sometimes sell for $20 a pop. I’ve never in my life encountered a (real) fundraiser that did not directly ask for money - and usually, I end up supporting those because I know exactly what they’re selling and who they are. This girl didn’t even say who she was representing, just “I’m getting names so we can send out these coupons.” Who is “we?”

4 - She got very snotty when I said no thank you - “Really? You could be helping me out with my college, but you’re just not going to? Why not?” Sincere folks generally don’t try to guilt you into things, so my guess is that she’s probably in a high-pressure entry-level sales job, and she’s hoping that she can play the helpless-damsel-in-distress card to get my sympathy.

5 - “It’s seems too good to be true!”

Anyway, I’m pretty confident that there was some kind of scam going on there, but I’m not exactly sure what it was. She wasn’t asking for any kind of payment, and getting my info - name and address - doesn’t seem like it should be that tough. I’m sure my contact info has been sold dozens of times by various online stores at this point - wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy my info off of one of those guys instead of sending out an army of young people?

I guess there’s also the slim possibility that it’s not a scam, and that this particular participant just did a terrible job of describing her non-profit program in a way that would make me eager to help out. But, disregarding that, and assuming that the basic facts of what she said was true (it’s not a paid subscription), how is this scam supposed to work?

Sounds like she’s building a mailing list to sell. On the downside, you will be sent mail you might not want. Since I can’t imagine she is getting paid much for each name, perhaps the person being scammed is the solicitor?

I think the kids that get roped into this are scammed, too. Seems I’ve heard that they answer ads in the paper for jobs that involve traveling and good times, then they are taken to different cities and forced to canvass neighborhoods all day and sell these “magazine subscriptions”. I have been approached by these kids many times and have never bought anything- usually they’re very nice but I can see one getting snappy, too.

Some companies pay money for legit email addresses. Don’t participate or put down a fake one. We don’t need more spam.