2006-04-13 / Front Page

SUSPECTS CAUGHT IN 'CLASSIC' CON GAME

Victim Points Out Two Suspects In Alleged "Classic" Con Game
By Charles Rogers

James WrightJames Wright

It was a combination of good police work and dumb luck last week that could put two alleged con men - accused of bilking a little old lady out of her life savings - behind bars. And if further investigations turn up a few more cons supposedly engineered by the duo, they could be in jail for a long, long time. That's where the good police work comes in.

The dumb luck part comes with two pretty dumb suspects, John Hall and James Wright, both 57, who showed their face back in Canarsie only a few days after having allegedly bilked this little old lady out of $8,000.

Hall, who lives in Manhattan, and Wright, whose home is in the Bronx, allegedly pulled the old find-the-bag-of-money-and-get-the-old-lady's-savings trick, which depends on the greed of the unsuspecting victim. It's done fast, and usually on the elderly, with the hope that the older victim won't stop long enough to check the scam out.

It goes like this: One of the suspects, walking next to the victim, sees a bag lying on the street. He picks up the bag, looks inside it, and, with a piece of acting only seen this side of a Broadway theater, appears amazed, shouting aloud that he's found a bag of money. He quickly shows it to the victim next to him, exposing a few stacks of the green stuff (which has a $20 bill on one side and another $20 on the back, squeezing a stack of cut-up paper between them, thus making it look like there's a stack of twenties).

John HallJohn Hall The victim is as amazed as the first man, who looks up to see another man standing nearby who says he witnessed the whole event and wants to share the stacks of money with his two new-found friends.

The first man says he's willing to share the cash, but first he wants to make sure there are no strings attached and have it checked out, pointing to a nearby lawyer's office. However, he must have "good faith" money before he brings it to the lawyer, he says.

The victim readily agrees to go to his or her bank and draw out a certain amount, giving it to the first man, who heads for the lawyer's office while the victim and the other man stay together.

After awhile, the second man says he thinks the first man is taking too long in the lawyer's office and says he'll go and see what's keeping him.

He goes....and the first man goes...and the only person not going.... is the victim, who is left almost literally holding the bag, the empty bag.

Usually that's the end of it. After all, what good con man would even think about pulling the same scam in the same neighborhood only a few days later?

Now we know about "good" con men, as opposed to bad con men - suspects, anyway.

Seems that the little old lady who was conned out of $8,000 was walking on Avenue L near East 88th Street one day last week and saw Wright and Hall walking together. She quickly told her friend to call "911" and 69th Precinct patrol officers nabbed the suspects.

Officials from the precinct's detective squad arranged for a lineup and, after positive identification by the woman, the suspects were arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

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