Elderly woman loses wedding, anniversary rings in 'Pigeon Drop' scam
ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - An 84-year-old widow lost her wedding and 50th anniversary rings to two "well-dressed" scam artists who insisted she could share a $300,000 bag of "money" they all "found" in a St. Petersburg Walmart parking lot.
"They really ought to put themselves in my family's shoes," said the woman's daughter, Tracy McGaughey, who said her mother is too distraught to face TV cameras.
A previously unseen woman arrived to the area of the parking lot where the money was “found” and said they should all keep the money.
After leaving for a few minutes under the guise of going to a bank, she said they would need collateral to show the bank they were legitimate.
They brought McGaughey's mother to her home, where she got them $10,000 cash and three rings worth $9,000.
The suspects then disappeared.
"The actual value is in the sentimental value that you are not going to be able to replace," said McGaughey.
St. Pete Police call it a "Pigeon Drop" scam, which includes the promise of a big score, and a second salesperson who appears to randomly show up and sell the idea of making big money.
"The old rule about if it sounds too good to be true- it probably is," said St. Pete Police spokesman Mike Putez. "I don't know of any case where somebody who found that amount of money was going to share it with complete strangers."
St. Pete Police say the elderly are often the targets of these scams, because they're easier to confuse.
"If for whatever reason a person suddenly doesn't buy their scam, they move on," said Puetz. "There is very little danger to them."
McGaughey is begging for anyone with information to come forward.
"You don't really think that that would happen to your own family, being scammed," she said. "It's unbelievable really."
The two suspects are described as being well-dressed, with nice jewelry and are both around six feet tall.
Police say they collected DNA, but have no solid leads, yet.