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'Pigeon drop' scam surfaces in Augusta area

Sunday, July 14, 2013 7:36 PM
Last updated 10:10 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book.



Two men approach an unsuspecting woman in a public parking lot promising a large sum of money.

To prove she is responsible, the woman is asked to withdraw money from her bank account and hand it to the men. The men leave and the woman finds out the money she thought she was receiving is actually scrap newspaper wrapped in a head wrap.

It’s called the “pigeon drop,” and it’s happened at least three times in the Augusta area over the past two months, according to Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reports.

“If somebody’s working the area, they’ll go until it stops working, then skip town,” sheriff’s Lt. Pat Young said. “It’s not a weekly thing, though.”

The scam has been around at least since the 1930s, Young said. He said every pigeon drop shares common qualities.

“There are usually two or more people working together,” he
said. “They’re going to find somebody who they think looks trusting, a pigeon.”

One of the scammers will approach the victim with a story to gain sympathy. In two recent incidents, the scammer said he was looking for an African Baptist church in the area. The church, however, doesn’t exist.

In each of the recent cases, the men promise to give the victims more than $68,000 if they can prove they are responsible. Before any money changes hands, the scammer will wave his partner over to the discussion.

“You bring in the third party to build up the confidence in the victim,” Young said. “This puts the victim at ease because they feel like they aren’t the only one in on the deal.”

The assistant will often withdraw money in a show of good faith to the victim. Once the victim withdraws their money, it is wrapped in a head wrap or bag and is combined with the large sum that the scammer promised. The three will then pray over it, Young said.

“And then by distraction or slight of hand, the money is replaced with newspaper clippings,” Young said.

On July 2, two men stole $3,000 from a 60-year-old Augusta woman in a pigeon drop, an incident report said.

One week earlier, two men conned an 89-year-old woman out of $1,000 after promising her $68,000.

Another victim, a 74-year-old Augusta resident, gave the scammers $700 in jewelry along with more than $1,200.

Young said the scam is extremely hard to prevent.

“We never know when they’re going to hit or where they’re hit,” he said. “My best advice is don’t trust anyone who approaches you in a parking lot promising you money.”

Comments (15) Add comment
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fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 07/14/13 - 09:20 pm
14
1
Oh no.
Unpublished

“If somebody’s working the area, they’ll go until it stops working, then skip town,” sheriff’s Lt. Pat Young said.

My god, they'll be here for years!

jmo
18531
Points
jmo 07/14/13 - 09:45 pm
10
2
Greedy people....

get what they deserve.

Augustaisdying
526
Points
Augustaisdying 07/15/13 - 01:55 am
6
3
Journalism?
Unpublished

You're missing the "where." What parking lots? Sheesh.

dhwilkins
13
Points
dhwilkins 07/15/13 - 04:27 am
8
0
Common Sense Missing?

Who in their right mind would give money to someone in a parking lot that they have never known? How many times do you read about this type of scam and think "you gotta be kidding"?

seenitB4
97737
Points
seenitB4 07/15/13 - 05:21 am
7
1
Just happened here too

This is going on all over the state....hubbys kin had 3 black women approach her last week in the mall area....it must work ....sad they fleece older folks like that....kin didn't fall for the trick.

Dixieman
17427
Points
Dixieman 07/15/13 - 05:36 am
9
1
You can't cheat an honest person

Con artists prey on the greedy.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 07/15/13 - 07:36 am
0
0
Mindless Behavior performing at Deans Bridge Wally World.
Unpublished

Mindless Behavior performing at Deans Bridge Wally World.

Equaltreatmentforall
49
Points
Equaltreatmentforall 07/15/13 - 07:47 am
4
0
Just Remember....

If it's too good to be true... or is it "A fool and his money is soon parted" ?

nocnoc
49218
Points
nocnoc 07/15/13 - 08:35 am
8
0
They can fool some of the people some of the time

To any one lucky enough to luck up on one of these con-artists.

Play along, tell them you have to go to bank your ATM is limited to $100 cash withdrawals, tell the bank teller what it is going on and have her call the police.

Odds are they have already done it locally and a arrest would could lead to a conviction and recovery of a little money for past victims.

old coot
8
Points
old coot 07/15/13 - 08:52 am
6
3
Where is your compassion

It is more than likely that the victims of this scam were older folks and greed was not necessarily their motive. The older we get we feel sorrier for folks who tell us sad stories and we tend to believe their misfortune and want to help. The other thing is everyone is quick to judge but until you have walked in the shoes of the victims you have no idea why they fell for the scam.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/15/13 - 09:09 am
0
0
if they dont get greedy this
Unpublished

if they dont get greedy this wouldn't work...preying on individuals who have "i kin git mee's some free mun-nay fo nutin to go wit my foo stamps and welfare" mindset.....gotta be obammy voters no doubt

unbiased_propaganda
165
Points
unbiased_propaganda 07/15/13 - 09:14 am
2
0
@old coot

I agree that the earlier commenters are lacking in compassion when they say things like 'how stupid can you be' and 'you can't cheat an honest person' - but in these cases, the perpetrators usually aren't pitching a sad story to get money.

They are promising people more money if they give them a smaller amount of money. So they aren't exactly giving to the needy.

But on the other hand, these criminals almost always go after the elderly...which makes me sick to my stomach. I couldn't imagine how I would feel if my older relatives or friends were ripped off by these low lifes.

itsanotherday1
48342
Points
itsanotherday1 07/15/13 - 09:57 am
2
1
The elderly are typically on

The elderly are typically on a very tight financial string, so are more easily compelled to pick up the "easy money". That is why so many get swindled with sweepstakes and other "legal" scam operations.

LocalGirl
317
Points
LocalGirl 07/15/13 - 10:04 am
4
2
Not buying it....

Sorry, but I'm not buying the "they are old" excuse. Only a greedy person will be taken in by a scam like this. Heck, an older person should have more life experience and should know you don't get something for nothing.

Darby
29315
Points
Darby 07/15/13 - 10:26 am
3
0
"Just Remember.... If it's too good to be true...

or is it "A fool and his money is soon parted" ?"

.
Or maybe it's the old PT Barnum... " There a sucker born every minute..."

Maybe it 's all that and more....

Dixieman
17427
Points
Dixieman 07/15/13 - 01:05 pm
4
1
Old? OLD??

Well I am 70 and would laugh in these fraudsters' faces.
And the victims here were motivated by greed/the promise of easy money for nothin'. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for them.
I know how to keep you young whippershappers out of my wallet, by gum!

BamaMan
2687
Points
BamaMan 07/15/13 - 12:51 pm
2
0
Oldsters

I don't think it's necessarily older people tight on their money or greedy. Our older generation could trust people with a handshake in their younger years. The scammers know that.You can't trust ANYBODY anymore.

Spudzee22
35
Points
Spudzee22 07/16/13 - 08:24 am
1
0
rational judgement is

dimenished in many older citizens, in much the same way it has not developed with many young people due to lack of experience @LocalGirl.

Darby
29315
Points
Darby 07/16/13 - 11:03 am
1
0
"I know how to keep you young

whippersnappers out of my wallet, by gum!"

.
Dixieman - Are you saying you'd gum 'em to death? I mean, I could recommend a good dentist if you're having trouble.

Back to the subject... There's no punishment short of horsewhipping that would fit the crime for these slime bags.

Even that might be a tad too lenient.

The possible greed or lack thereof, by the victim notwithstanding.

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