by Anneli Rufus
The Oakland Police Department is asking for the community to help nab a felony grand theft suspect who has been running a scam against the elderly.
According to an e-mail sent by the OPD last night, Carl Taltonn has committed numerous grand thefts in the city of Oakland recently. His MO is a classic gimmick known as the "pigeon drop," in which criminals ask strangers for money and — assuring them that it's all legal and above-board — promise to promptly return the loan along with much more.
That anyone could fall for this is already appalling. Despite all the warnings and publicity the pigeon drop has gotten over the past few years, some people apparently — and tragically — still haven't heard of it, and fall victim to scammers like Talton, who the OPD says has already swiped $40,000 from his victims.
The OPD tells us: "Talton usually approaches the victims in public places such as grocery stores and shopping centers. He has a friendly demeanor and often fakes an accent. He tells a story about receiving a large sum of cash from a relative, friend, or well-known organization and convinces the victim that he needs their assistance in selecting an appropriate social cause to donate the money."
"Talton usually works in conjunction with another male suspect and they often flash bundles of money. At some point during the contact, the victim is asked to temporarily contribute money to the bundle to prove trust. The suspects then distract the victim and the money is taken."
As Harry Harris reports in the Trib, Talton has been pulling these scams since at least 1965 in many states — including Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, and Utah. He has only recently started scamming in the East Bay.
Harris writes: "Talton, also known as Willy Stiggers...is being sought on a no-bail arrest warrant charging him with bilking two Oakland residents out of more than $20,000 and attempting to get money from a third. ...
"He is charged with two counts of elder abuse, two counts of grand theft, and one count each of attempted elder abuse and attempted grand theft. Police are trying to identify accomplices in the incidents and see if there are more cases."
Arrested and charged after attempting to scam an Oakland woman on March 12, Talton was freed on $10,000 bail. Police do not know his whereabouts.
According to the OPD: "He is described as a black man, 70 years old, 5’9 and 200 pounds. His last known address is 2269 Foothill Blvd. He frequents the Pac N Save Food store on Hegenberger Road and the Home Depot on Alameda Avenue."
"Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Ed Somarriba of the Oakland Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 510-238-3951."