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Missouri Attorney General

Bank Examiner & Pigeon Drop Schemes

Bank examiner and pigeon drop schemes are common scams. Each year, hundreds of Missourians are swindled out of their money -- sometimes their life savings.

Bank examiner scheme

In the bank examiner scheme, con artists pose as FBI agents, bank examiners, police officers, detectives or bank officials. These con artists contact you, pretending to need your help to conduct an investigation.

As a valued bank customer or upstanding citizen, you are asked to withdraw your money and hand it over. They promise to redeposit it or return the money to you after they have completed their investigation. Of course, you never see your money again.

Pigeon drop scam

In the pigeon drop scam, swindlers work in pairs or teams. One befriends an unsuspecting consumer, the "pigeon," while the other approaches them with money or valuables he claims to have just found.

After some rehearsed conversation, the con artists agree to split the money three ways with you and arrange to meet at a lawyer's office or somewhere else of their choosing.

But can they trust you, they ask. To get your share, you'll need to put up some "good faith" money, which they will return to you after the goods are divided.

To prove yourself trustworthy, you turn over a large sum of money to them and later go to meet them at the designated spot. Soon after arriving, you realize the pair is long gone -- and so is your money.

Tips to avoid scams

  • If the situation seems unusual or if you feel uncomfortable, just walk away.
  • No financial institution or government agency ever uses customers to conduct internal investigations. Many financial institutions request that customers read and sign a form when they wish to withdraw a large amount of cash. The form alerts consumers to these scams and encourages them to talk to a bank or law enforcement officer if these conditions are present. This is not an attempt to keep your money or control how it's spent -- it is to protect you from fraud.
  • Trust only people you know. Do not trust someone because he or she has a friendly voice or appears to be an authoritative figure. Swindlers usually are friendly and have honest faces and pleasant personalities. That is how they gain your trust -- and steal your money.
  • Talk to a law enforcement officer or your banker before withdrawing large sums of money at someone else's suggestion.

 
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