This one's from Salina, courtesy of the Journal. Con artists tell a couple that gold coins are buried under their store. (For effect, they even have a "special machine" that beeps in the presence of the coins.) The couple agrees to let the con artists use a jackhammer to dig through concrete and into the soil.
The con artists then "find" a clay box with a cross on it and "1878" on the bottom. Inside? A letter saying that $70K in gold coins are buried just a few meters below the box.
But! The con artists warn them of bad luck that will haunt their family for four generations if they don't complete certain steps first. To wit:
- The couple can't tell anybody what's been dug up.
- They all had to say the rosary together for nine days.
- They have to build an altar to the god Fray.
- They have to put in money equal to the value of the gold coins. The couple puts in $45K. The cons put in $25K.
You can probably guess the rest. The con artists never show up again. The couple says the rosary every day. After nine days pass, they look in the box and see the money's gone, replaced with newspaper.
UPDATED: I talked to Deputy Chief Mike Marshall of Salina P.D. Investigators are still working on the case, but they do have a rough description of the suspects. They're two Hispanic men, probably Colombians, of undetermined age. They were last seen driving a newer Volkswagen Jetta, white with four doors.
I asked Marshall how the shopkeepers got taken in. He said the suspects were very polished, very smooth, and they played to the victims' beliefs.