The pigeon drop. With a name like that, it has to be a con. The pigeon drop is an age old scam that relies on greed being a part of human nature. It requires two accomplices and a victim (the “pigeon”). With slight variations, it looks something like this:
A woman stops you to ask for the time. While you are together, a man walks by and asks if one of you has lost a wallet – a wallet he seems to have just found on the ground. Both you and the woman say it’s not yours. The man opens the wallet and finds a big wad of cash inside, but no identification. The woman says maybe he should take the wallet inside the nearest building to see if anyone’s reported it missing. He suggests dividing the money between the three of you if no one’s looking for the wallet. You agree.
The woman asks him to leave the money behind while he checks, so he doesn’t run off with all of it. He agrees, but asks for some good faith money as collateral. The woman gives him $100 of her own money. You chip in another $100. Then the woman pulls the cash out of the wallet, puts it in an envelope, seals it, and gives it to you for safekeeping. The man goes off.
After a few minutes, the woman starts to wonder where the man has gone. She says she’ll go look for him and come right back. She goes off. More minutes pass. Then you start to wonder where they’ve gone and begin to feel a little nervous. But wait – you have the money, so that’s all right. You take out the envelope just to double check. You open it and it’s filled with…newspaper.