Originally created 02/10/00

Counties cooperate on 'flim-flam' incidents



They've possibly posed as electricians, ministers, Bible salesmen and Social Security clerks in hopes of getting victims to let their guards down.

And now, after several similar flim-flam incidents, authorities are combining their efforts to catch what might be the same two suspects wanted for recent robberies in several counties in the area.

"We are working with the surrounding counties -- Jefferson, Burke and Columbia -- to see if they have had anything similar," Richmond County Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said.

On Jan. 24, an 88-year-old Richmond County widow was visited at her home on Golden Camp Road by two men in jogging suits claiming to be selling Bibles for First Baptist Church on Walton Way. While one man quoted Bible verses and made small talk, the other disappeared into her kitchen.

After they left, she discovered that $110 in cash, her checkbook and a house key were missing from her purse, which was sitting on top of the washing machine.

On Saturday, an 82-year-old woman was robbed at her home on Milledgeville Road by two men who claimed to be pastors soliciting prayer. One of the men actually snatched her wallet from a pocket on her sweater before both fled in a black car.

All of the counties have combined their investigative resources and determined that the impostors from the incidents from all the counties are probably the same.

"(Other counties) have had flim-flams like this, but their folks pose as Georgia Power or cablevision or something like that," Chief Deputy Strength said. "They do have the same method of operation, so we are looking at it like it's connected and pooling our resources to see if we can't come up with some suspects."

In all of the estimated seven to nine flim-flam robberies in the counties involved in the investigation, senior citizens were the victims, Chief Deputy Strength said.

Columbia County has had two incidents this year believed to be connected to the possible flim-flam ring, said Capt. Steve Morris of the sheriff's office.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227.