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Pocketbook drop con game back in Florida

Ken Kleinlein

Ken Klein­lein

By Ken Kleinlein

Crime Scene

Police are look­ing for a man and woman who scammed an 84-year-old woman out of more than $10,000 in cash and $9,000 in jew­elry in St. Petersburg.

The man approached her in a park­ing lot claim­ing he had found $300,000. Shortly there­after the other woman approached ask­ing if she could help.

The con­ver­sa­tion then turned to what to do with the appar­ent ille­gal money. The woman agreed to put up $50,000 as col­lat­eral so that a bank employee the man knew could help them keep it. The elderly woman also agreed to put up col­lat­eral so she could share in the found money.

The man left with her money and jew­elry and never returned.

I made numer­ous arrests for this con game. It was known as the pock­et­book drop, leather drop, or pigeon drop.

The found cash is what is known in the trade as a Michi­gan bankroll or stinger. It con­sists of a roll of play money or cut news­pa­per with a large bill on the out­side giv­ing the impres­sion of a lot of cash.

Putting up col­lat­eral sup­pos­edly proves to the nonex­is­tent bank employee (some­times it is a lawyer) that the peo­ple shar­ing the money have cash to live on so they will not spend any of the money for a rea­son­able period of time. This will pre­vent the police or the IRS from becom­ing suspicious.

At this point one of the con artists allegedly takes the col­lat­eral to show the banker/lawyer and never returns.

Police reports indi­cate this con has been in our area before.

In 1997, a Port Char­lotte woman lost $1,000 to a man in his 40s, heavy set, with a dark beard, and a woman, approx­i­mately 50 years old, with short, black, braided hair.

In 2011, the Sara­sota Sheriff’s Office reported a woman had lost sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars to two men described as a black man in his 50s, 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, with a small mus­tache; and a black man in his 30s, 5-foot-6, 130 pounds, with an accent.

In New York City I arrested Louise Yuen, 51, and Annette Fer­rara, 42. They were charged with Grand Lar­ceny 2nd ($4,000), and Fraud­u­lent Accost­ing (Pock­et­book Drop Con Game).

While under sur­veil­lance and act­ing in con­cert, sub­jects did engage the com­plainant in con­ver­sa­tion and by means of a con­fi­dence game known as the Pock­et­book Drop took $4,000 from her.

Folks, if you are approached by strangers with a story that makes you sus­pi­cious, lis­ten to your instincts and dis­en­gage. With­out putting your­self at risk, get a descrip­tion of the sub­jects and the car they are dri­ving and report it to law enforce­ment. You may pre­vent some­one from becom­ing a victim.


Received this infor­ma­tion from State Rep. Ray Pilon (R-72), a for­mer police officer:

Ken, you prob­a­bly have heard of this scam, it is run­ning wild up here in Tal­la­has­see. You receive a busi­ness check in the mail for a rebate or pro­mo­tion. If you deposit the check the crooks get your bank account info and can clean out your account via elec­tronic transfers.”


From Capt. Bob Bron­gel, a for­mer Florida State Law Enforce­ment Officer:

Received a call from Jen­nifer Sul­li­van of the Legal Affairs Sec­tion of the US Trea­sury. She wanted to speak to my son and was insis­tent that he call her regard­ing law enforce­ment action being taken against him. When I inquired she said only an IRS agent could dis­cuss it as it was con­fi­den­tial and involved my son. She also gave me her agent ID number.

She said the mat­ter was of the great­est impor­tance since numer­ous let­ters had been sent to my son and the let­ters had been ignored, so the sit­u­a­tion could result in his arrest. She then gave a phone num­ber he should call and was very insistent.

I stated this is a scam, you have no idea who you are talk­ing to, and she hung up.”

The IRS has received numer­ous reports of this type. Enforce­ment agen­cies do not oper­ate in this fash­ion.  Do not give any per­sonal infor­ma­tion and don’t return the phone call. If you are con­tacted, call the Trea­sury Inspec­tor Gen­eral for Tax Admin­is­tra­tion at 800−366−4484.

Take care, be care­ful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.

God bless and pro­tect our mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment, fire­fight­ers, and EMTs.

Ken Klein­lein is a for­mer detec­tive with the NYPD spe­cial frauds squad, coor­di­nat­ing with local, state, and fed­eral law enforce­ment, and accred­ited secu­rity com­pa­nies, on mat­ters of crime pre­ven­tion and pub­lic information.   

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