Pigeon drop scam hits Port St. Lucie

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Port St. Lucie police are warning residents not to be a "pigeon" after crooks scammed a trusting soul out of thousands of dollars.

"I can not explain.. I can not explain what happened, " said Pradel Bonnet.

64 year-old Bonnet says he is still dumbfounded over what happened to him last week.  He was in his motorized scooter at the Sam's Club in Port St. Lucie when he was approached by a well-dressed man, who began a conversation. 

Bonnet says the man helped him with  his groceries, then the pair drove to a nearby McDonald's where they met a third man who claimed to be a minister.  They told Bonnet they had 75-thousand dollars to give to charity but had to leave town, so Bonnet could keep a third if he gave the rest away.

The men asked Bonnet to show them some "good faith money" in return.

Bonnet got 4-thousand dollars out of his bank.

Detectives say this classic "pigeon scam" is all about building confidence in the intended target.

"They're dressed nicely. The victim has no concerns about engaging in a conversation with them," said Detective Ken Frid with the Port St. Lucie Police Department.

According to Bonnet, after going to his bank, he saw one of the men put his money inside a blue handkerchief along with the rest of the "charity" money. The handkerchief was later given to Bonnet as the men went their separate ways.

"When I opened the thing, it was newspaper, it was newspaper," said Bonnet.

Bonnet and his wife know that money is probably gone, but at least the crooks didn't have other plans.

"I thank God I'm still alive," said Bonnet.

For a man who has an elaborate home security system, Bonnet says he wants to warn others, after letting his own guard down.

"I don't want nobody to happen that thing, that's why I called police, " he said.

"We understand that money is tight for everybody.  But if someone offers you money and it seems too good to be true, it probably is," reminds Detective Frid.

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