Originally created 09/26/03

Four men are sought in scams



AIKEN - Authorities are looking for as many as four people who conned an Aiken couple out of $60,000 in a pair of scams pulled off a month apart.

The victims, described as being in their mid-60s, were not identified by Aiken County Sheriff's Office officials, who were also vague on some details of the crimes. Investigators acknowledge that the perpetrators used variations of the oft-practiced "pigeon drop" and "badge play" scams.

Authorities said the male victim was approached while driving in Augusta last month. The scammer asked for directions to the nearest bus station, then, joined by a conspirator, persuaded the man to withdraw about $30,000 from a bank, Aiken sheriff's Investigator Victoria Bargmann said. She would not identify the bank.

The victim then dropped the two men off at a restaurant and later discovered he had been taken.

About a month later, on Sept. 17, two other men flashing fake badges showed up at the couple's Aiken home and told them they were investigating the theft. The impostors said they suspected a bank teller of being in on the scam and needed the victim to withdraw more money, which he did. They took the money, about $30,000, and said they would return after analyzing it. They left the man in a parking lot.

"It's a classic style of deception," Investigator Bargmann said.

Police say four men, two black and two white, were in on the con game. Each time the victim withdrew money, one of the men accompanied him and was photographed by a bank surveillance camera.

Anyone who recognizes the suspects or has information about the crimes is asked to call the Aiken County Sheriff's Office at (800) 922-9709.

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110.