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Con Artists Con Themselves

September 29, 1985

MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) _ Police are looking for two women who tried to con an elderly lady out of more than $700 but wound up giving her $1,300 by mistake, authorities said.

No arrests are anticipated because ″it isn’t hardly a crime for someone to give you money,″ police Lt. David Messmore said Friday. However, officers are looking for the two women who tried to pull an old con called the pigeon drop, he said.

The scheme preys on people who think they are doing a good deed by helping to return some lost money, Messmore said. The con artists approach a person saying they have found the money and need help finding its owner. In return, they agree to keep some of the ″found″ cash and split it, or they may agree to split an expected reward, police said.

However, the target of the scheme is asked to put up some money as a sign of good faith. The ″found″ money and the target’s money are supposedly put into two envelopes, but one has cash and the other paper, which is given to the victim.

On Thursday morning, the two women approached an elderly woman behind the Mansfield Square Shopping Center and gave her the pitch about finding a wallet with money, police said.

Police, who declined to identify the elderly woman, said the pair drove the woman to a bank in nearby Ontario, where she withdrew $724 from her account.

They then drove her back to the shopping center, gave her an envelope full of money and told her to give it to ″Mr. Weinstein at J.C. Penney’s,″ presumably the owner. They told their intended victim they would return her share by check.

It often works, Messmore said, but this time the envelopes got mixed up and the elderly woman ended up with the cash.

″It’s really heartening to see something like this happen. It’s enjoyable,″ he said.

The envelope the woman had for the mysterious Mr. Weinstein had $2,000 inside, police said.

″She could have easily been a victim,″ Messmore said. ″I can’t add too well, but it sounds to me like she just made $1,300.″

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