Monday, May 14, 2007


In the past few months I have read of two separate incidents where our citizens have been robbed in broad daylight, on our city streets. These ladies who might be your mother or wife, were victims of a heartless team of scam artist. These scam artist use trickery to steal their money. Almost any of us can be their next victim. I am writing this series of articles to help you spot them before they make you their next victim.

The “Pigeon Drop” scheme originated in China over 1,000 years ago about the same time paper money was first invented. Since then it has spread around the world and is a danger no matter where you live. The example I am going to give is typical but there are minor variations in many countries.

The “Pigeon Drop” team usually consists of two people. The first member befriends you or strikes up a conversation in a public area. The “hook” member of the team approaches you both. He has something of value he just found. Usually this is a packet of money. He shows you the money. This is called the “flash” meant to get your attention. The conversation that follows may vary but it usually has four characteristic features:

You decide to keep and split the money or sell the valuable item and split that money.
The two strangers suggest getting some legal advice. Sometimes one of them will claim to be lawyer’s secretary whose office is nearby.
They will suggest your put up some good faith money from your pocket, which will be returned, when you finally make the split. They will let your hold the money “next to your heart”.
They will invent some reason to leave but promise to come right back and split the money you are holding. They trust you.

They never return. When you examine the packet you find nothing of value; usually the packet is just cut pieces of newspaper. The switch takes place in a variety of ways. The usual way is when the con artist suggests holding the money “next to your heart so no one will steal it”, he demonstrates. While the packet is out of sight; the switch is made.

What should you do if this cruel heartless team of crooks attempts to make you their next victim? First, do not confront them. Crooks desperate to stay out of jail, might hurt you. You should invent some plausible excuse not play their game. I suggest saying, honestly, that your religion forbids you profiting from the misfortune of others. Stick to your position. They will try to corrupt you and change your mind. Next, look at these people closely so that when you report them to the police, you can give the police something to help them put these parasites out of business. A good idea is to note scars or other distinguishing features that can later be used to identify and capture them. Finally, knowledge is power, share this information with friends and neighbors who might not read my column. Be an everyday hero and help keep our community safe.

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