A New York woman suspected of being a con artist was jailed under $1.1 million bond in Prince George's County yesterday, accused of bilking a local woman of $1,350.
Esther Jean Rowe, 32, was arrested Wednesday in the parking lot of the Iverson Mall shopping center in Hillcrest Heights after allegedly carrying out a swindle called the pigeon drop, according to police. A suspected accomplice escaped with the money, police said.
County police spokesman Thomas Vernon said Rowe is wanted on embezzlement charges in Las Vegas and on a false pretense charge in Elizabeth, N.J.
District Court Commissioner Roger McDaniel set bond at $1.1 million, noting that "she's wanted in other jurisdictions. Obviously she's not going to hang around." District Court Judge Graydon S. McKee III upheld the amount.
Police said Rowe struck up a conversation with the victim in the shopping center parking lot about 2 p.m. Wednesday when her alleged accomplice excitedly approached both women. The accomplice, another woman, displayed an envelope which appeared to be full of $1,000 bills, which she claimed to have found.
Rowe then claimed to know of a person who would "launder" the money, changing it into smaller bills so the three of them could divide it, if the women would help by providing smaller bills of their own. Rowe then allegedly accompanied the victim, a 41-year-old woman from Temple Hills who asked police not to identify her, to her home and to a bank where she produced $1,350.
Police said the victim became suspicious when Rowe would not accompany her to the bank where she was to pick up her share of what Rowe described as a $49,000 find.
Police spokesman Vernon said the pigeon drop swindle is usually attempted on older people and those seen as probably unwilling to go to the authorities. The victim in the Wednesday incident, he said, was an Asian woman who had difficulty speaking English.