for immediate release
April 29, 2003

N E W S   R E L E A S E

Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris urges all citizens to be on the lookout for a "Pigeon Drop" thief who has struck several times in recent years, always in large retail store parking lots.

The most recent case was at approximately midday on Monday, April 28, in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, 748 N. Beal Parkway, Fort Walton Beach. The victim, a woman in her early 60's, lost almost $3,000 cash to the scam artist.

The suspect is a black female, apparently in her 30's, who approaches individuals in parking lots. She claims to have just found an envelope full of money, and offers to share the bounty if the victim is able to put up cash in advance. She accompanies the victim to a bank to withdraw the "advance" money, but does not go inside the victim's bank. After the victim returns with cash, the scam artist takes all of the money, and instructs the victim to wait. The thief never returns.

A similar scheme has been reported at least four times in less than three years, with a well-spoken black female as the suspect. She has an accomplice, an "attorney friend" who provides "advice" by cellular telephone.

Anybody encountering such an individual should contact the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office immediately at (850) 651-7400. Anybody with information about the identity of the "Pigeon Drop" scam artist should contact the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS (863-8477).

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for more information contact Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

(850) 651-7420

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