How to Spot the Pigeon Drop Scam

Published: Sep. 26, 2011 at 4:36 PM EDT
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The pigeon drop scam is one of the oldest and most successful scams in history. Originating from the French word "pigeon," which means someone who is easily scammed, and the familiar wallet drop scam, the pigeon drop can dupe even the most suspicious of people. Follow these steps to spot a pigeon drop scam so you can prevent yourself or people you know from being robbed in a clever way.

1 Look for the bait. The pigeon drop scam always begins with a large sum of money or a very valuable object suddenly appearing out of nowhere. There are different versions of the pigeon drop scam, but some familiar methods involve having the victim find the bait or using an innocent looking person to inform the victim that someone just left the valuable object or money in an unlikely place. Either way, the baiting is one of the first and most obvious parts of a pigeon drop scam.

2 See if the person refers to an authority figure. The next step in the pigeon drop scam is the involvement of an authority figure. The first person will tell the victim that they should consult an attorney, for instance, whom they know. The attorney or other kind of authority figure is the second member of the scam who helps takes things to the next level.

3 Inspect the plan. The next stages of a pigeon scam get the victim to consider a plan to take the bait-the valuable object or found money. The formulation of the plan is an important part of the scam because it allows the perpetrators to get the victim actively involved and believing in the scam. So, if people start talking about what "we" should do as a group, you can be fairly certain a pigeon drop scam is in the offing.

4 Wait for the "good faith" request. The single most identifiable part of a pigeon drop scam is the request that each of the people who "found" the bait offer some kind of deposit of money or a valuable item to show good faith that they will split the found money or object. Sometimes the good faith can be very elaborate, involving a bank safety deposit box. However, stay on your toes and look out for a request that you have to contribute anything to the group in order to spot a pigeon drop scam.

Courtesy eHow Legal Editor