Jamaican Switch or Pigeon Drop

What It Is
The key element of a Pigeon Drop offense is the finding of a large quantity of currency and convincing the potential victim they can share in the money. Anyone can be a victim, but it is normally committed against an older victim by two suspects, females and/or males. However; it can be committed by one suspect acting in concert with someone on the telephone. The initial approach is made in retail shopping areas and follows this general described pattern.

How It Happens
The scammer may be or claim to be from another country. The scammer approaches you in a public place and asks for some sort of help. He shows a large sum of money and offers to pay for your assistance. He may say he can't speak English or doesn't have a bank account and needs help getting a hotel or some other need.

Another suspect will act as an unknown passerby, who will approach the first person and caution them to put the money in a bank. He says he does not trust banks, but if you prove you can make a withdrawal, he will put his money in a bank. You go to the bank and make a withdrawal. He gives you his money in a bag or package and begs you to be careful. The second man suggests you place your money in the same type of package for safety. He may open his jacket or shirt or somehow distract you and switch the packages. You think you are holding your money. After the strangers leave and you examine the package, you find you have a bag of newspapers.

Another variation can be that one of the strangers claim to have found or won some money, and the second "stranger" and you agree that the money should be split three ways. You are expected to withdraw money from your bank as a sign of good faith. Once that's done, the money and friends disappear.

How to Avoid It
  • Do not turn any money over to strangers.
  • Do not expect something for nothing.