11/13/03 03-105

11/13/03 03-105




November 13, 2003   

Subject:     Fraud Alert

San Francisco Fraud inspectors are alerting the public to a scam perpetrated on older citizens, particularly those of Hispanic descent The scam, known variously as a pigeon drop or Jamaican switch, involves one suspect engaging the victim by asking for directions or something similarly innocent-sounding.  A second suspect will then approach and explain that he or she has either found money, has a deal that could earn each of them a large amount of money, or is involved in some legal situation involving money.  This leads to the victim putting up “good faith” money, which will be returned to the victim later in the day.  The full amount of the deal, say $20,0000, will then be split between the victim and the victim’s new “acquaintance.”  The victim withdraws the good faith money, gives it to one of the suspects, who promises to return with the victim’s “share” of the $20,0000 plus the return of the good faith money.  The suspects are not seen again.


People should be especially wary of a stranger coming up to them and engaging them in conversation, followed by the approach of a second stranger, with an easy-money scheme that requires withdrawing a large amount of money from their bank or credit union to be given to one of the participants in this fraud.


For more information, please contact:


Lt. Kenwade Lee, Inspector Earl Wismer

Fraud Section