The Tulsa Police Department is searching for two women they say scammed another woman out of $5,200 after promising her about $25,000.
Police call this an investment scam, or pigeon drop scam, where someone finds a bag of money and says they are going to split it with the victim.
“I am a cancer survivor. I just got back on my feet and then for this to happen,” said Vickie Johnson.
Johnson says she was in the Walmart near 81st and Lewis on July 26th buying groceries when she noticed a man yelling at a woman outside the store and calling her names. A few minutes later, that same woman approached her saying she found a bag on the ground.
“She said that ‘when I tried to give it to him, he started cussing me out,’” said Johnson.
Shortly after, a second woman came into the aisle and asked what the other woman had found.
“When she opened it up, there it was, it was all this money,” said Johnson.
Johnson says she told the woman she should turn it in, but the woman said if she turned it in then the police or Walmart wouldn’t let her keep it.
Johnson says the woman then asked if they could go out to her car and count the money. When they got there, she says they found a note inside the bag.
“The note said something like ‘this money was won at the casino and it was to be divided among two people,’ and it had their names telling them to put this money up so they didn’t have to pay taxes on it,” said Johnson.
She says the note also had a racist comment on it, which Johnson says made the woman mad so she wanted to keep the money.
That’s when the three women decided they were going to split the money and they drove to the Walgreens near 71st and Lewis, where one of the women said she worked.
“She was gone for 15 minutes and, when she came back, she said that her boss said the money was legal and he did call the police station,” said Johnson.
The woman allegedly said her boss told her to have the women get $5,000 out of their accounts and the serial numbers so that they could put it on the books, so the banks wouldn’t be alarmed when the women made a large deposit.
“At first I thought, ‘there’s something wrong here,’ then the other woman said ‘let me go first. My bank is across the street,’” said Johnson.
Johnson says the second woman went and got money out of her bank and then was given her cut of the money. That’s when Johnson decided to wipe her checking and savings accounts and bring $5,200 back.
When she handed the woman the money, the woman said she would go inside and get it for her because Johnson’s purse was too small to hold $25,000.
“I thought to myself the manager would have to give me a sack or a box or something because my purse was small,” said Johnson.
She says the woman went inside Walgreens and never came back out, so Johnson went inside to talk to the manager.
“He told me that nobody had been in to talk to him about any money,” said Johnson. “He didn’t count any money and didn’t know anything about any money.”
Johnson says the woman seemed sincere and she can’t believe she fell for it.
“I’m the kind of person that I don’t let people do that to me, but it got me this time,” she said.
Police say this scam is often referred to as an investment scam, or a pigeon drop scam, and people fall for it more often than you think.
“They believe that there’s actually kind people in the world,” said Tulsa Police Financial Crimes Detective Robert Guardiola. “All we can hope for is an arrest and a conviction at this point.”
Detective Guardiola says unless the suspects have the money when they arrest them, the probability of Johnson getting her money back is very slim.
“Just be wary of people. If they are presenting something that seems too good to be true, then it’s probably not true,” he said.
“I almost passed away from being so sick, and then these people come and take everything and rob everything from me,” said Johnson. “They need to go out and get a job and work instead of going around doing this to people.”
Johnson says she had to get a second job to pay for her cancer medication and she hopes the women who did this will be brought to justice.
“I want to tell these ladies, if you’re out there and you hear me, that was so evil what you done [sic],” said Johnson. “I am going to pray for you, but what you did was wrong.”
Walmart released security photos of women police say they are trying to identify in connection to this crime. If you recognize them, call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.