O’FALLON, Mo. – Police in O’Fallon, Missouri, say they’ve arrested three people who were part of an international fraud ring.
The bizarre plot was reportedly going down in St. Charles County parking lots. It then ended at a Target store parking lot on Highway K, south of Interstate 70, where the suspects were greeted with one heck of a surprise.
A trunkful of rolled-up cash is what suspected international scammers thought they were going to steal from an elderly man, as Sgt. Bryan Harr described the twist.
“When (the suspects) showed up at the location to pick up the money … they opened the trunk, it was just a piece of wood in there, and then they were taken into custody safely,” he said.
One suspect, Ankurkumar Patel, was charged with financial exploitation of the elderly in a case that has now been handed over to the Department of Homeland Security. Court records allege, “Patel is part of an international fraud ring.”
The other suspects were released pending warrant application review.
“Our victim was actually dropping significant amounts of cash off to the suspects,” Harr said.
Court records say the alleged scammers were “posing as agents of the U.S. Department of Treasury” and “defrauded the elderly victim out of about $129,000” by “falsely advising him his money was unusable due to identity theft.”
“The victim realized he may have been a victim when they started asking for more money,” Harr said. “So, he came up to the station and said, I believe I’ve been a victim of fraud, and thank goodness he did.”
This is the second reported international crime spree interrupted in the area just this year. In May, FOX 2 told you about a bed and breakfast rental near Main Street that was used as a home base for suspected international jewelry thieves until their arrest by St. Charles police.
“We had officers sit in all kinds of areas surrounding the house, so we could see it from all angles,” Captain Ray Floyd said at the time.
It was quick action from local police departments that could waste no time in dealing with suspects moving from state to state.
“This was excellent work by our officers; there’s no doubt about that,” Harr said. “It takes a lot of teamwork working with the drug task force and our officers with boots on the ground to make sure everything comes together safely.”
The stolen money has not yet been recovered as the Department of Homeland Security picks up the case.