October 23, 2006
Albany -- Scammers often strike during the holiday season, but police say they're getting an early start. A 78-year old Albany woman has already been conned out of her money.
On October Sixth the victim was shopping in the Harvey's grocery store on North Slappey at 1:00PM, when a man and woman approached her, saying they had found a lot of money in the parking lot.
"This is called the pigeon drop. It's a variation," said APD Lt. Kenn Singleton.
The con artists took the woman to her home, where she gave them "good faith money," expecting to get a lot of money in return. What she got was cut up paper. Investigators say they fear many more people will fall for this easy money scheme.
"But the key thing you have to remember is, if it seems like you are going to something for nothing, that's probably what you are going to get. Nothing," Singleton said.
Police say these are some of the cons they expect to see in the next months.
1- Pigeon drop, like the Albany victim fell for. Con artists show you money, and most victims get too greedy to think about the con.
2- The bank examiner. A person calls you, asking your help catching a crooked teller. They will ask you to withdraw money from the bank to catch them, then take the money for evidence.
3- Obituary scams. A person shows up after a death saying the deceased bought something from them. They get the names from the obituary page in the newspaper.
4- Fortune tellers. They look for the vulnerable who will believe their act.
5- Faked pedestrian accidents. They fake an accident, then take your money not to report you.
6- Home improvements. Someone shows up at your door, telling you about problems with your roof or driveway that they can fix.
Albany Police say they see four or five victims of con artists a year, but that is just a fraction of the number of victims. Most are too embarrased to admit they have been taken.
Police want those victims to call them, so they can catch the con artists. "Yes, we want these people to call, because we do want to bring some closure to some of the cases we do have in the past," Singeton said.
And to prevent future crimes. Singleton said watch out when someone offers you a deal too good to be true. "When that person is talking with you, if it seems as if you are going to get something for nothing. Big money is guaranteed, talk about cash only, last chance offer, get rich quick schemes."
Police say ask questions of a con man if you suspect one, too many questions will make scam artists move on to easier victims. Con artists are usually charged with theft by deception-- a felony.