Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Woman conned out of $75,000 in cash and jewelry

Police are searching for two men they believe caught the woman in a confidence scheme. By SEAN EMERY THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER Comments | Recommend IRVINE – Authorities say two men scammed an Irvine woman out of $60,000 in cash and more than $16,000 in jewelry this week, promising her a profit in return for helping them access “inheritance” money in what police describe as one of the oldest cons in the book. Police believe the woman is a victim of what they refer to as a “pigeon drop,” a confidence scheme in which someone is convinced to give up cash or valuables in return for even greater sums of money. The woman was first approached by one of the men while leaving a restaurant in the 14000 block of Culver Drive at around 11 a.m. on Monday, police Lt. John Hare said. The man, who identified himself as “Mabue,” told the woman that a rich uncle had left him a conditional inheritance, which required that he make a donation to a charity, Hare said. He asked the woman to help him find a charity, Hare said, implying that she would get a piece of the inheritance in return. The woman took “Mabue” to a church in the 5000 block of Alton, Hare said, where she intended to talk to the priest about the charity donation. But shortly after they arrived, a second man, who identified himself as “Frank,” struck up a conversation with the two. “Frank” then left briefly and returned with what the woman believed to be a large sum of money, Hare said. The two men convinced the woman to help with their “donation” as well, Hare said, and she dropped them off at a shopping center parking lot as she drove home to pick up several thousands of dollars in cash and jewels. The woman picked the two men up, and drove them to her bank, the Downey Savings and Loan on Culver Drive and Walnut, where she took out more money while “Mabue” and “Frank” waited in the parking lot, Hare said. The woman gave the two men the $60,000 in cash and more than $16,000 worth of jewelry, Hare said. Once she handed over the money and jewels, the men asked her to drive around the parking lot one time as a “test of trust,” Hare said. The men were gone by the time she returned, Hare said. The woman went into the bank to report what happened, and employees called the police, Hare said. Police have released descriptions of both men. The man who identified himself as “Mabue” is described as being in his early 40s, 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 180 pounds, clean shaven with short hair and dark brown skin. He had a thick French accent. “Frank” was described as a black man in his early 50s, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, clean shaven and curly black hair with a little gray in it. Confidence scams like the pigeon drop have gained a new notoriety in recent years, thanks to its more tech savvy equivalent, the “Nigerian E-mail” scam in which a “wealthy foreigner” asks victims for help moving a large sum of money from their homeland in return for a percentage of the cash. “Part of the problem with the Nigerian E-mail scam is that it is not tangible money right there in front of you,” police Det. Joe Monroe said. “It is a lot easier to delete an e-mail than walk away from someone in front of you with this great scheme. Unfortunately greed kind of takes over.” Unlike scams such as identity fraud which can require more people and expertise, confidence scams can be pulled of with less manpower, Monroe said. “This is a very basic, easy scam that two or three people can put together and pull off,” Monroe said. “The way a lot of crooks think is ‘more people, less cut.'” While the number of incidents are still relatively low – Hare could remember only a handful in the past few years – they can have a devastating financial impact on the victims. A 71-year-old Anaheim widow in January lost $5,332, her life savings, when a man asked her for help finding an attorney to interpret a letter he claimed said he won $200,000. As in the Irvine case, another man who police believe was in on the scam showed up to donate his own money, and once the woman turned over her share of the cash the men took off. The con artists often prey on elderly victims, Monroe said. When watching out for the scams, Monroe said the simplest advice is still the best. “They need to be cautious with any investment they make. Just don’t let greed overtake your common sense,” Monroe said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

May 18, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. please contact me and i know where those two men hiding here in ghana with lot of money.i work in hotel and staying in one hotel in ghana africa.

    Comment by philip | November 21, 2009 | Reply

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