A 71-year-old woman from East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, fell victim to a fraudster group that managed to convince her to voluntarily hand them over $34,500 (26,000 EUR).
According to The Advocate, the scheme began when the victim was approached at Home Depot by a man wearing a suit and a tie who claimed that he couldn’t read or write.
He handed the woman a letter in which he was informed that he had received a lot of money which he needed to pick up from a bank’s parking lot.
The con artist convinced her to drive him to the location, where they met with another man that was holding a brown paper bag that allegedly contained $19,500 (15,000 EUR).
Captain Tommy Rice, head of the Financial Crimes Unit, revealed that the scammers told the woman that she should withdraw the same amount of money from her own account.
“They asked her, ‘Why don’t you withdraw the same amount of money just to show that you’re not gonna steal from us?’,” Rice said.
The victim complied and her money was also placed in a brown paper bag, both hers and the crooks’ bag being placed in the trunk of the car. After a short drive, the men told her that they had to leave, taking one of the bags from the trunk.
When she got home, the woman realized that the “money” which remained in the car wasn’t actual money, but newspaper clippings shaped like dollar bills.
A few days later, the woman fell for it again. Other fraudsters, a woman and a man, most likely working with the same group, drove up behind her as she stopped at a stop sign.
The man approached her, presented a police badge, and told her that the other con artists were apprehended. He also informed her that the money from her paper bag was counterfeit, which made her a suspect in the case.
In order to avoid being arrested, he convinced her to go to the same ATM from which she withdrew the money the first time and take out another $15,000 to prove that the bank teller is the actual counterfeiter and not her.
She complied, and when the so-called police officer was handed over the money he said that the bills are fake and need to be taken in as evidence.
Unfortunately, we are presented with another incident which demonstrates that scammers can successfully leverage an individual’s desire to help others in need.