New Haven police warned the public yesterday that the recent warm weather may make it easier for confidence scam artists to prey on unsuspecting victims. But the warning came too late for one Yale student — and the $1,500 she lost to a trio of unscrupulous and apparently crafty women.
Police said the 21-year-old female student fell victim to a scam known as the “pigeon drop” Monday. While walking on Crown Street near College Street, the student was approached by an unknown older woman who said she had found a wallet with a large amount of money in it and asked if it belonged to the student.
A second unidentified woman then approached and suggested they look inside the wallet for identification, police said. While the wallet did not contain any form of identification, it did hold a stack of what appeared to be $100 bills.
Police said one of the two women said she worked for a lawyer and suggested they turn the wallet over to him to determine what to do with it. She asked the victim and the other woman to come with her as witnesses, and both did so.
While walking to the lawyer’s office, a third unidentified woman drove up in what was either a beige or silver Ford Crown Victoria, police said. The foursome drove down College Street and parked, at which point one of the women left the car with the wallet and supposedly went into the lawyer’s office. She returned a short time later, supposedly with instructions from the lawyer that the women should put up “good faith” money to help pay for taxes on the found money.
In exchange for paying a share of the “good faith” money, police said the victim was told that she would receive a corresponding share of the money in the wallet. The student was then driven to a bank, where she withdrew $1,000 in cash and $500 in a cash advance on her credit card.
One of the unidentified women appeared to put the $1,500 in an envelope. The three women then dropped the victim off on the corner of George and Church streets, instructing the victim to take the envelope back to the lawyer’s “main office.”
When the victim was unable to find the office, police said, she examined the envelope more closely and discovered it contained only paper — the envelopes had been switched and the student had lost all of her money.
Police said they are looking for three black females, described as in their mid-30s, as well as the beige or silver Crown Victoria.
–Yale Daily News