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Theft charge filed in ‘pigeon drop’ scam

Winnetka police arrested one of two men they say swindled a man of $5,000 in what’s called a “pigeon drop scam.”

Richard M. Clark, 62, of Worth, was arrested May 3 at his residence and charged with theft. He and another man conned an Evanston man from the money after approaching him in an Evanston grocery store parking lot, according Winnetka Deputy Police Chief Joseph Pellus.

Clark could not be reached for comment.

A pigeon drop scam is when one con artist approaches a mark, or pigeon, and says he needs some up-front money in order to obtain a larger claim. In the Winnetka case, the Evanston man was told that the stranger was looking to collect a large settlement, Pellus said.

To allay the mark’s fears, a second person — pretending to be unknown to the scammer — is approached and agrees to contribute half the up-front money.

Pellus wouldn’t say which role Clark allegedly played in the scam, but acknowledged that the investigation is still underway to locate a second person.

The three men left the parking lot in the Evanston man’s vehicle. After visiting ATMs, including a Winnetka bank, the men combined the cash and it was given to the mark for safe keeping, Pellus said. Later, after they had gone their separate ways, the victim opened the duffel bag to reveal strips of paper, but no money.

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