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Target of scam shares story
by Mark Boehler
Sep 07, 2013 | 76 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The resurgence of the old street scam "pigeon drop" has prompted one Corinth elderly resident to step forward to share an experience to the public about meeting two strangers with a plan that if carried out would have cost him $6,000.

Like most "pigeon drops," the scam involved two people, an elaborate story of someone coming into some money and the final catch that a third party needs to buy in to the idea.

"It was a well-thought out scam," said the Corinth man, who wished to remain anonymous. "I let it go too far. They hit on me because I was elderly."

The Corinth Police Department said reports of the scam are on the rise in the city. It has happened twice in the past few weeks, including an elderly woman who lost $900 and another victim who lost $750.

It's one of the oldest scams on the street. If carried out successfully, the fraud leaves a victim with a bag full of nothing and a little shorter on cash.

In the man's case who decided to step forward, it was typical in the story begins in a parking lot of local businesses and near a bank with a meeting with a stranger, a move police say is the first indication of what might unfold in the swindle.

A middle-aged black man inquired if the man was acquainted with the area and showed him a piece of paper which read, "African Baptist Church -- Third Floor."

The potential victim wasn't aware of any three story buildings in Corinth, but the story continued as the scam artist kept rolling around two rolls of money which appeared to be $100 bills on the outside.

The next move to take the stranger to a local church is what police say is the most dangerous part of the scam because the elderly person is the most vulnerable in this situation.

After stopping at a local fast food restaurant for the man to use the restroom, the detailed story began to develop.

"He claimed he had a letter from a law firm in South Africa stating that he was the heir to a $800,000 settlement for the death of his brother during the airline crash into the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. ... he informed me he had $80,000 he could not take back to South Africa and his lawyer advised him to donate it to charity. He was looking for someone to assist him in finding an organization to donate the same."

During the entire conversation, the swindle expert continued to move the rolls of money from pocket to pocket, explained the potential victim.

The next part of the story is what police say will usually happen, a third party will enter the picture and become part of the deal offer.

The third party — described as a younger, well-dressed black male — was offered a deal that if he could find an organization to donate $35,000, he could keep $5,000 for his efforts, the man explained.

Some "good faith" had to be shown for trust purposes with an asking price of $2,000. Of course, the third party left the deal making session and returned with the $2,000 to satisfy the deal, according to the potential victim.

"He then turned to me and offered me $40,000. I could keep $7,000 if I would find a worthy charity to donate the same," said the man.

Bingo.

"By this time I realized this was a scam," he admitted.

Police say this is where successful swindlers get the cash from the victim from a local bank, then leave them holding an empty bag -- hence, "pigeon drop."

"Never let strangers in your vehicle," Detective Capt. Ralph Dance recently told the Daily Corinthian after two successful "pigeon drops" on local victims.

This potential victim went a step further after realizing a scam was in the works.

He offered to take the stranger to a local bank to deposit the money until a person could be found in which to give the money, but the man said he had a flight to catch later in the day.

The bottom line was then reached — the man needed some "trust" to the tune of $6,000.

"I informed him I did not have my checkbook," he said, but the persistent trick artists said a counter check would work fine.

The man left to get the money at the bank, but fortunately in this case, he never returned to the scene of the sometimes successful crime.

Dance said the best option is to contact the police.

"I read where the last pigeon drop got $900," added the man. "I thought I'd share my story as they were going for $6,000 with me."
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