Scam artist trio takes $3,500 from unsuspecting Ellicott City woman


In a variation of an old con game, three people took a 77-year-old Ellicott City for $3,500 last week, police said.

It was the second such scam reported this year in the county.

Police said the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, was approached by a woman at about 12:30 p.m. Monday in the Safeway store at the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center on U.S. 40.

The victim told police that the woman told her she had just seen a man pick up an envelope that had been dropped by someone getting into a limousine. The man who purportedly picked up the envelope and another man soon joined the two women, telling them the enveloped contained $60,000.

The trio convinced the Ellicott City woman to withdraw $3,500 from her bank account as "good faith" money until they decided how to split the $60,000, police said.

One of the men arranged a meeting with the woman to deliver her share. When he failed to show up, she called police.

The three con artists are believed to have fled in a gray station wagon, police said.

The female suspect, who used the name Betty Jones, is described as black, 25 to 30 years old, 5-foot-2, 120 pounds with straight, collar-length black hair. She was wearing a green and brown print blouse, and a long skirt, police said.

A man calling himself "The Reverend" is described as black, in his 60s, with a full-trimmed beard. He was wearing dark clothing, police said.

According to police, the second man, who used the name Hezekiak Allen, is described as black, between 45 and 55 years old, 5-foot-8, and weighing 190 pounds. He was wearing a navy blue snap brim hat, white short-sleeved shirt and dark slacks.

Police said the elderly often are targeted in such scams.

Earlier this year, another elderly woman lost $9,000 in a similar scheme.

Two years ago, two men posing as police officers conned an 80-year-old Fulton woman into giving them $1,000.

To avoid becoming a victim, police suggest these tips:

* Don't discuss your personal finances or give cash to strangers.

* Always investigate before investing money or signing a contract.

* Be suspicious about extraordinary promises of high or unusual monetary returns, or a bargain no one else can match.

* Don't be too embarrassed to report that you've been victimized swindled.

"Basically, people think they are going to get something for nothing when the con artists approach them," said police spokesman Sgt. Gary L. Gardner "When something sounds that good, it probably isn't."

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