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Police warn of scams

Ben Godar

A 17-year-old Glendale girl who was nearly the latest victim of a con

game called a “pigeon drop” has police warning citizens to be aware

of a variety of similar deceptions.


There are many variations on the pigeon drop, but Sgt. William

Berry said the con usually begins with a perpetrator approaching a

stranger claiming to have found something valuable such as cash, gold

or diamonds. The perpetrator then offers to give the victim a cut of


the profits and in exchange asks for some cash to hold as an act of

good faith.

The con artist eventually disappears with the cash, leaving the

victim with nothing or an object that turns out to be worthless,

Berry said.

The Glendale teenager was approached Aug. 1 in the 200 block of

South Victory Boulevard by a man offering to take her to a jewelry

store to appraise a supposedly valuable diamond he found. While she


eventually refused to go along, Berry said the trick often works and

many times is not reported to police.

“We don’t hear about it as often as it happens,” he said. “A lot

of people are embar- rassed by it.”

Burbank Police Det. Matt Ferguson said a similar con is reported

only every couple of months, but whenever a case makes the news,

police receive calls from several people saying they were victims of

the same trick.


In another recent case, Ferguson said the perpetrator convinced

the victim that a spray-painted rock was a piece of gold.

Most pigeon-drop scams will only work if the perpetrator can find

someone who believes they can get something for nothing, he said.

“It’s a con, but it takes a greedy person to become a victim,” he


In other instances, Ferguson said the crook would solicit “good

faith” cash under the guise that a larger sum will be donated to a

church or organization.

Elderly people, he added, are often targets along with recent

immigrants, who often do not use banks and carry large amounts of

cash. Crooks often prey on victims from the same minority group

because they assume they will be trusted, he said.

Whatever elaborate scenario is used, Ferguson stressed that it is

important to remember that anything that sounds too good to be true

probably is, and anytime someone offers something for much less than

it is worth, it is likely either a con or someone peddling stolen


“There are plenty of markets or pawn shops out there,” he said.

“The only reason they’re coming to you is to take your money.”

Anyone who has been the victim of a scam is encouraged to call

Burbank Police at 238-3000.