BEDFORD, Ohio - Bedford police Det. Dennis Burgansky and Shaker Heights Det. Walter Siegel said at least 10 women have fallen victim to scam artists operating in grocery store parking lots around northeast Ohio.
The women have lost between $2,000 and $12,000 in the scams that have happened in Bedford, Shaker Heights, Beachwood, South Euclid, Fairview Park and Middleburg Heights.
The women have been approached during daytime hours while shopping by themselves at Giant Eagle, Heinens and Walmart the detectives said.
Police said a woman, who goes by the name of Vivian or Diana Scott, approaches women between 60 and 80 years old in store parking lots or even inside the store. The woman, and occasionally another woman in on the scam, show the target a pouch filled with a lot of money and tells the target they noticed they dropped the pouch.
After the victim denies the pouch is theirs, a man, who is also in on the scam, approaches and claims he saw the victim drop the pouch filled with money. At this point, the first woman tells the victim she works for a bank and tells her about a phony version of a finders keepers law.
The woman claims if the victim will pay the taxes on the money that was found they can all split the money after no one claims the money for 30 days.
At this point, the man claims he has a bunch of cash on him and more than willingly hands over the cash to woman for the taxes The woman tells the victim the money in the pouch must be lost gambling money because there is no ID with it and it would be OK to claim it.
Police said the man gives the woman he is working with on the scam his cash to trick the victim into going to a bank and getting out cash.
In some cases, the victim drives to several banks withdrawing up to $12,000 because the scam artists tell the victim there's up to a $100,000 in the pouch.
The woman who first approached the victim says she has to go into the bank to talk to her bank manager.
After awhile the man tells the target he's going to check on the woman in the bank, but neither return leaving the victim alone in the parking to realize they were duped.
Police hope anyone who was a victim or was even approached by the scam artists will contact Bedford Heights Det. Bergansky at 440-232-3408 or Shaker Heights Det. Siegel at 216-491-1220.
Middleburg Heights police will also take reports on this case.
Siegel, who is a police sketch artist, made sketches of the alleged scam artists.
Bergansky said the scam started in the area last year and picked up in Bedford this spring and summer.
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