It’s no secret that thefts and burglaries are on the rise. And while it is estimated that 67% of burglaries can be avoided by the installation of video surveillance, avoiding theft through scams requires more than video surveillance — it requires vigilance and extreme skepticism.
After becoming the victim of a “pigeon-drop” scam, 65-year-old Dorothy Edge of East Flatbush, Brooklyn became one of the 27% of Americans with no savings at all. She lost $28,000 — her entire life savings — when she thought she was simply doing a good deed.
“I’m calling myself stupid, and I don’t want anyone to be stupid like me and get scammed,” Edge said.
Edge told CBS2’s Ali Bauman that she was walking near the corner of Nostrand and Church avenues when a woman stopped her and asked for directions. Then, she informed Edge that she had just inherited a large sum of money but was unable to take it home because she was from Africa.
“She shows three letters — one from a high priest and one from three lawyers,” Edge said. “She cannot take back the money to South Africa because the government will confiscate it.”
At that moment, a man dressed like a pastor walked by, and the woman stopped him to tell him her story as well. The ‘pastor’ agreed to donate the money for the woman, and asked Edge for assistance to prove that he wouldn’t run off with any of the money.
“The man with the Bible in his hand who said he’s a pastor and he’s going to help — that’s what caused me to trust – the pastor,” said Edge.
Next, the ‘pastor’ drove down to 31st street where he exited the car and returned with a bag of cash to prove his trustworthiness. He then drove Edge to her home to retrieve her own savings.
“From 26 years I came to this country I started saving that money — 26 years!” Edge said. “And I went down there and I showed it to them and said, ‘This is my money. If you leave the money with me I will give it to Saint Jude.’”
Edge gave her money to the so-called African heiress in order to prove that she too was able to be trusted.
“She put it in a black kerchief and she wrapped it up, and that is where the money switched,” she said.
When Edge finally returned home and opened the bag, there was nothing but pieces of newspaper, and the ‘pastor’ and ‘heiress’ were nowhere to be seen. That’s when she knew she had been scammed.
Luckily, a fundraiser has been set up to help Edge get some of her savings back. About 17% of crowdfunding donations are made on mobile devices, but you can make a contribution using any device with Internet access.
Edge’s $28,000 loss means that she may struggle to receive healthcare and other necessary services in the future. Despite the fact that there are 15,655 skilled nursing care centers in the United States, they’re not always affordable, and on top of that, according to data from the American Health Care Association, there were 35.7 million people without healthcare insurance in the U.S. in 2014, and those numbers are only continuing to rise with the impending reformation of our current healthcare system.
Ultimately, Edge said that the most important lesson she learned was, “Not to trust anyone — no one at all.”