DOWNEY - Over the past several months, the city of Downey has experienced an increase in "bunco scams." This notice is intended to make the public aware of some of the recent schemes which citizens have been falling victim to.Bunco scams usually involve some "too good to be true" offer. The suspects often work in pairs and target the elderly or individuals who unwittingly put their confidence in get-rich-quick schemes. Typically, one suspect will approach a victim asking for their help. Many of these initial contacts have occurred in shopping areas. A common scheme is the suspect claiming to have a winning lottery ticket, but will have some plausible reason why they can not receive payment for it. Often they claim to be an illegal immigrant. While the first suspect is explaining why he needs the victim's help, a second suspect approaches claiming to have overheard the conversation and offers their help. The two convice the victim that they each need to put up "good faith money." The second suspect usually purports to have the good faith money. This is typically an envelope with shredded paper made to look like cash or a roll of what appears to be cash. The suspects then offer to drive the victim to their bank or home to get the victim's good faith money. Once the victim has fronted the money, they find some way to separate from the victim. In many cases, one suspect claims to be ill and asks the victim to go into a store to buy medicine, either holding the victim's money or making a switch, giving the victim a worthless envelope full of shredded paper. When the victim returns, the suspects are gone. Although the scams and suspect descriptions differ, one theme is common. These thieves prey on those who will put their confidence in them and their false offers. Whatever the scam, there are things the public can do to avoid falling victim. Use caution when dealing with strangers and be suspicious of strangers offering to share found money or lottery winnings with you. Bunco scam artists are persuasive and persistent. They are well-trained and have managed to take away valuable assets and, in some cases, life savings. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Questions related to these types of crimes may be directed to Detective Jeff Hill at (562) 904-2335 or Detective Ron Gee at (562) 904-2331.
********** Published: July 31, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 15