Every year unsuspecting citizens are swindled out of their savings by con artists; smooth talking, often convincing criminals who seek by various schemes to separate honest people from their money.
While these criminals prey primarily on the elderly, every one of us is susceptible; men and women, the successful and the unemployed, working people and the retired. You could be approached by a con artist almost anywhere (out-side a bank or savings and loan, at a bus stop, at a Senior Citizens meeting, while you're shopping, or at your home).
While approaches may vary, and the con artist may appear perfectly normal and friendly, there inevitably comes a time when you will be asked to withdraw money from your savings. The reason for this may seem logical; to show your "good faith"...to help in the investigation of a "dishonest employee." BE ON YOUR GUARD. If you do turn over money to one of these people, even for a moment, you will never see it again.
The following are three common "bunco" schemes:
- The Examiner Scheme - If a stranger tells you that he or she is an examiner or investigator and asks you to help catch a dishonest employee, beware. If you seem interested, the con artist will say he or she will re-deposit your money in such a way that the "dishonest" teller will be caught red-handed. The phony examiner will pick up your money and give you a fake receipt, never to be seen or heard from again. A simple preventative measure would be to call and check with your financial institution before doing anything. Banks never involve their account holders in investigations.
- The Pigeon Drop Scheme - If a stranger or strangers tell you that they have found some money, and try to convince you that it was ill gotten by the loser (maybe a gambler) and can be kept, beware. You will be told you may share the find if you withdraw the money from your savings to show "good faith" and responsibility. You may think you have your money in view, but the envelope or bag will be quickly switched. Only on going back to re-deposit your money do you discover you have only pieces of blank paper.
- The Automobile and Home Repair Scheme - Vagabond thieves frequently do auto body repair work to earn extra money. They will drive around town looking for dented vehicles and, after locating one and its owner, they inform the owner that they can make the repairs cheaply. After the work is done the thieves may then say the job was complicated and charge an exorbitant fee. Vagabond thieves also use various introductory statements to induce home owners to allow them to repair or tar roofs, or resurface driveways.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
- DON'T discuss your personal finances with strangers
- DON'T withdraw cash at the suggestion of someone you don't know
- DON'T accept that a person is official or legitimate without checking first
- DON'T believe stories that sound too good to be true, invariably they're not
- DON'T be embarrassed to report that you have been victimized
- DO call the police if approached with any story similar to those described above
- DO testify in court, if asked, to help stop this kind of crime
- DO tell your friends and neighbors about bunco schemes