This is a street scam with many
variations. It requires more than one con artist -- two in this example -- but in
elaborate examples with a lot of money at stake, three or more con artists may be
involved. Here's how it works:
Con artist number one is called the steerer.
He or she will be the first con artist the victim has contact with.
The steerer approaches the victim on the street and engages
in a friendly conversation with him or her. This can take place at a bus stop, in a store,
at a park -- anywhere at all. (Remember that the steerer can be male or female.)
The steerer's goal is to use a friendly conversation to gain the victim's trust, as
just a pleasant person to talk to. During the conversation a second con artist, the
"leader," makes an appearance. He or she enters the picture in the
The leader walks up to the steerer and the victim and tells
them he has just found a wallet or purse that contains some money. The leader shows
both the steerer and the victim the money and asks them what they think he or she should
do with it.
No matter what the victim thinks, the steerer will want to
get everyone to keep the money. The leader announces that he will split the money
with the other two if they will help him figure out what to do. Remember that the
victim doesn't know that the two con artists are working together.
Both con artists manipulate the conversation to appeal to
the victim. At this stage of the scam, everyone is focused on keeping the money.
The steerer then suggests that his or her attorney (or a bank accountant or some
other professional) is located close by, and the steerer would be more than happy to
contact this professional to find out what should legally be done with the money.
Most of the time the victim usually agrees and the leader
leaves, supposedly to see this professional. He returns in about a half-hour.
Upon his return he announces to the other two that the
legal option is as follows:
Give the wallet, purse, etc., to the professional, who will
hold it for 30 days. The leader will place an ad in a local paper. If no one
comes forward to claim the money within the 30-day period, then the three of them legally
can split it! The leader may also encourage the victim by saying that most of the
time no one claims the money and the chances are good they will get to keep it.
The whole idea is to gain the confidence of the victim by
appearing to be playing by all the rules.
At this point the con artists working together have the
victim believing that he or she has just stumbled upon an incredibly lucky circumstances.
As with all scams there is always a catch. After all three agree to the plan, one of
the con artists says we should all deposit an amount of money equal to our share of the
found money and let one of us hold it until the 30 days is up. The con artists will
manipulate the victim to go along with the suggestion.
As you can guess, the two con artists disappear with the victim's money.
The pigeon drop is a very successful scam when
professionals administer it. Now that you're aware of it, youll now how to say
"stop" and walk away before they can scam you.