Con men targeting Good Samaritans in SJ

March 19, 2009 9:23:13 AM PDT
A warning for would-be Good Samaritans in the South Bay. A con man is targeting a few good men in the parking lots of big box stores. He asks for a little and ends up taking a lot of cash.

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With eight known victims and possibly dozens more who haven't come forward yet, police say this is a scam warning the San Jose community needs to pay close attention to. Just last week, one of the victims was targeted in a Home Depot parking lot on Blossom Hill Road in South San Jose. In this case the victim was a 54-year-old retired San Jose man walking to his car.

Investigators say a well-dressed, well-spoken man with an African accent approached this victim - saying he was lost and needed help. The con man then flashes a wad of cash and tells a grand story about inheriting millions of dollars from an uncle in Sierra Leone, Africa who wanted to donate a large portion to a church.

The con man tells his victims that he's looking for two "honest men" to help hand out the donations. In return, they'll get some of the money, but first need to provide a large sum of cash as an act of good faith.

The scam has been very profitable, with all eight victims saying they gave between $7,000 and $20,000 to the suspects.

Police say the con man works with an accomplice. The first suspect is described as a black man with an African accent. He's between the ages of 50 and 60. He's about 6-feet tall, 180-to-200 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes. Investigators say the victims have all been men between the ages of 54 and 86, of different ethnicities, including Filipino, Mexican, Vietnamese and White.

These scams have happened over the past six months and all started in various big-box store parking lots throughout San Jose. Anyone with information, or who may have been victimized, is asked to call San Jose police.

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