A well-known Augusta scam artist charged at least seven times since 2010 with plying strangers with hard-luck stories, then taking their money, is behind bars again.
Police said Eva Carrol Smith, 47, was arrested Thursday, this time suspected of snatching money from a woman on Broad Street Wednesday after telling her not only had she been locked out of her car, but was pregnant with twins.
In recent years Smith has been often charged with misdemeanor theft by deception, mostly in incidents in the medical district and downtown.
In most cases, judges sentence her to probation and fines, but in two of the cases she was sentenced to four months’ confinement.
On Thursday, however, she was charged with felony by sudden chance because, police say,she grabbed money and ran.
According to deputies, Smith approached a 25-year-old Augusta woman outside Pizza Joint, 1245 Broad St., about 11 a.m. Wednesday and said she had locked her keys in her car and was pregnant with twins.
The 25-year-old told police she felt sorry for the woman, who called herself “Caroline,” and so allowed her to use her phone.
Police said the woman then drove Smith to a nearby gas station and got $80 out to pay the locksmith. When the driver insisted on paying the locksmith and not giving the money straight to Smith, police said, Smith took the money from the car’s console and ran away.
Smith was captured on surveillance video in the gas station, giving police a picture to post on social media with a warning against scams.
Also on Wednesday, Smith tried to get sympathy and money from a Columbia County deputy’s wife. Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Lewis Blanchard said the woman did not fall for the scam and only later notified police at her husband’s advice.
On Thursday morning, stories began filtering into the sheriff’s office again that a woman “pregnant with twins” was looking for rides and money near the Kroger on 15th Street.
A person told police she didn’t give Smith money but did give her a ride to a nearby motel. Blanchard said police saturated the area and took soon took Smith into custody.
Pregnancy is just one of the stories Smith uses to gain sympathy, rides and money from good Samaritans in the downtown area.
“Officer Webb,” a relative of Smith who works at the sheriff’s office, is another repeated story. Smith often uses the victim’s phone to call Webb, who promises to reward or repay the victim if he lends Smith money. On calling the sheriff’s office, however, the victim learns that he has been duped and that Webb doesn’t exist.