Three Men Indicted In Local Pigeon Drop Scam

Police questioning a suspect in the pigeon drop scheme In January, 2012. (File)
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WACO (April 4, 2013)-Three men were named in indictments Wednesday in Waco in connection with a series of pigeon drop schemes reported over several months in 2010 and 2011.

Roy Lee Wallace, 34, Robert Wayne Smith, 55, and Charles Anthony Smith, 56, were each named in indictments charging engaging in organized criminal activity.

All three were arrested in January 2012 in San Antonio on warrants issued in McLennan County and have since bonded out of jail.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said at the time of the arrests that all three men may face similar charges in Bexar County.

All three are from San Antonio and the Smiths are brothers, authorities said.

The local charges stem from an incident in September 2011 in which two men scammed a local resident out of a large amount of cash and some valuable jewelry in the parking lot of a bank on New Road.

Waco investigators recovered and returned property taken from the victim, some of which had been pawned in San Antonio.

The arrests came after an incident on Jan. 4, 2012 in which police pulled over a car in which the four men were riding near the intersection of South 5th Street and Cleveland Avenue after officers saw several men acting suspiciously at the Wells Fargo Bank at South 3rd Street and Franklin Avenue.

Officers recovered bundles of cash, bank statements, a Rolex watch, and envelopes from numerous financial institutions from the rented car, police said.

Police didn't find enough evidence to make an arrest, but police said at the time that charges could be filed later.

Investigators distributed a bulletin to other law enforcement agencies in hopes that victims of similar scams might identify the men.

Police launched an investigation into a series of similar scams in the Waco area dating back to 2010.

The most recent incident occurred two days before Christmas in 2011 when an elderly man reported he was bilked out of thousands of dollars.

Pigeon Drop Incidents

April 2010
Waco police issued a safety after two men bilked a resident out of a large amount of cash. Police say one of the two men approached the resident Friday in the parking lot of the Waco Lowe's store and asked for a ride. The resident agreed, and while he was driving, the man showed him a large roll of cash he was carrying, police said. The victim warned the man about carrying so much cash and the man said he would ask someone else about it. At that moment the second man, who just happened to walk by, approached. Police said the second man acted as if he was concerned and said he was going to help the first man find a safe place to stay. In the process, the victim was somehow convinced to withdraw a large sum of his own money after he was promised that he would end up making more money for helping the first man out. He gave the men his money, and before he realized what was happening, they both disappeared, police said. The victim, whose name wasn't released, said both of the men involved in the scam were light-skinned blacks. One appeared to be around 50 and the other was in his 30s. Both were 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 and weighed 170 to 180 pounds and at least one of the men spoke with an accent.

March 2011
Waco police were investigating a pair of weekend pigeon drop and officers believe the same two men were responsible for both. The first happened when two men, both in their mid-40s and both dressed in business suits, approached another man and convinced him to withdraw money from his bank account and then to hand over the cash. The victim told officers both men were black and both spoke with heavy foreign accents. The same thing happened again the next day on North Valley Mills Drive in Waco where two men matching a description of the pair involved in the first scam convinced another man to withdraw money that again was stolen. In both cases an undetermined amount of cash was taken.

September 2011
Waco police were looking for two men who convinced a man to hand over a large amount of cash and some valuable jewelry. The two men, both of whom were wearing business suits, approached the victim in the parking lot of Chase Bank at 320 North New Road in Waco, displayed cash to convince him they were trustworthy, and then proceeded to con the man out of cash and jewelry. Both men were black, spoke with what the victim described as thick African accents and were "very convincing in their desperate stories," police said. The two match the description of men involved in similar scams involving similar stories over the past several months in the Waco area.

December 2011
An elderly man reported on Dec. 23 that he was bilked out of thousands of dollars by con men. The 81-year-old told police he was approached by two well-dressed black men, one of whom had an African accent, at the Chevron at the intersection of Lake Air Drive and Sanger Avenue. The scammer told the elderly man that he wanted to donate $20,000 to a local charity before returning to Africa, and that he wanted to trust the elderly victim with the large amount of money. Then, the second scammer vouched for the first, going to the nearby Chase bank, and returning with cash. The elderly man then went to his bank and took out a loan for $2,000 to give to the scammers. The suspects told the elderly man they would return, but never did.