Unclaimed property can be a bank account, outstanding check, proceeds, or stock certificates overturned to the state because the rightful owner could not be found. Pigeon drop scams work on the premise of finding unclaimed money.
What Are Pigeon Drop Scams?
A pigeon drop scam is a form of fraud. It begins when a stranger approaches their intended victim. The scam artist explains how they just found money and want to share it with the victim. However, before sharing the money, the scam artist must receive some of the victim’s money.
Where Does the Scam Usually Occur?
It typically occurs in parking lots, malls, or shopping complexes. A well-dressed person approaches the victim and tells the victims that they have just found a briefcase, bag, or envelope and asks if it belongs to the victim. As they talk to the victim, the scammer’s partner arrives and makes small talk. They look into the bag and find large sums of money. Typically, there’s some indication it was a part of illegal activity, such as gambling or a drug transaction.
How Is the Victim Scammed?
The two partners discuss splitting it three ways. One of the partners will have a “connection” to a lawyer and immediately makes a call to the “lawyer,” who tends to be another partner in the scam. The “lawyer” will advise that each person provide a percentage of the money to show they have sufficient funds to support themselves while the lawyer locates the owner. The lawyer recommends the partners and victim deposit a percentage of the money into a safe deposit box or trust account.
Why Is the Victim Told to Deposit Money?
Depositing money shows three things:
- Good faith
- Proof of financial responsibility on each person’s part
- Each person is not trying to scam the others
How Much Money Is the Victim Scammed Out of?
The victim generally loses $2,000 to $3,000. However, the exact amount of money lost depends on the individual scam.
What Happens to the Bag of Money?
The partners find some way to leave the victim after securing the victim's deposit. Before leaving the victim, they give the bag of money to the victim to keep. Usually, once the scam artists have left, the victim opens the bag and sees that it is filled with paper instead of money.
Who Is Primarily Targeted for Pigeon Scams?
The elderly are usually targeted for this type of scam because they are believed to be the most likely to fall for it.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Accused of This Type of Scam?
Yes. If you are accused of committing a pigeon drop scam, contact a criminal lawyer to determine your options.