Pigeon Drop Theft / Found Money Switch Fraud of Elderly Senior Victims

By February 6, 2016News, Tips

In listening to the news today, I heard about the arrest of an individual who has been perpetrating the Pigeon Drop scam on the elderly in Atlanta since 2009.  Since I didn’t know about the Pigeon Drop scam, I thought I’d look it up online.

Scam Involving Street Approach with Bag or Envelope Full of Lost Money / Offer to Share for Good Faith Advance Fee

Pigeon Drop or “Found Money” Scam

Often occurring in a mall or shopping complex parking lot, a well-dressed young woman approaches the selected victim, usually an older woman. The younger woman will claim she has just found a bag, briefcase or envelope and inquire about ownership.

Or she will casually start talking to the prospective victim, attempting to befriend her by chatting about children or grandchildren, when a third woman comes by looking for the owner of a just-found bag, or asking “Did you drop this envelope full of money?”

When the three look inside the bag for identification they find what appears to be a large amount of cash with some indication that it comes from an illegal activity, such as gambling or drug money.

There is no label or ID present and the stated likelihood is that whoever lost the money probably came by it dishonestly and can not claim it, so your returning the money is ruled out as impossible.

A very sophisticated scheme unfolds for victims who believe that the two women, who work as a team, have really found a bag of money and want to share it.

First they will talk excitedly about how much money is in the bag and what each could do with the money if it was hers, skillfully drawing you greedily into the benefits of the scheme.

One of the two younger women will probably claim that she works for someone, perhaps a lawyer, who will know what to do with the lost money. They try to draw you further into the discussion and decision-making.

A call is made on the spot, and you are then told by one of the con artists that she has consulted with a lawyer, who stated that if they want to share the money they will have to show proof that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during the time the lawyer supposedly complies with the law by seeking the true owner.

He gives the recommendation that each person deposit a certain amount of money:

  • to provide evidence of “individual financial responsibility”,
  • as “good faith”,
  • to show that all those involved are acting above-board,

along with the found money, into a safety deposit box or his trust account, to see if anyone claims it first before dividing it up.

You withdraw and put $2000 to $3000 in the bag with the found money and other “good faith” money already deposited by the two con women. They then use a variety of tactics to dump you.

  • The one who claims to work for the lawyer offers to take your money to him, then returns saying the lawyer wants to talk to you. They give you a name and an address which turn out to be bogus. Or, you may be urged to wait a week before calling, giving them time to move on.
  • You may be asked to take the bag containing the money to the lawyer’s office while the con women park the car or go to the bathroom. Out of your sight, they have switched the bag for one containing paper of similar weight.

The victim – a pigeon – gets dropped holding a bag of paper scraps. She not only loses the hope of a quick profit, but also her own money.

It should be noted that strangers would not likely confide in other strangers regarding found money or offer to share their good fortune with you.

There are various reasons why this works when it is targeted against elderly women.

  • their vision may be blurred by hopes of getting something for nothing,
  • victims become concerned that resistance will result in physical violence,
  • they often carelessly carry larger sums of ready cash.

This crime proliferates because victims, who fear being labeled incompetent, fail to report it. The cons know what to say and who to say it to, as they target as many victims as possible in a short period of time.

One two woman team, eventually charged with Felony Theft, would approach elderly females on the street and offer to assist them or pretend to be acquainted with them. Once they gained the confidence of the selected victim, they would steal her jewelry, credit cards and money.

 

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