pigeon drop

a confidence game or sleight-of-hand swindle whereby cash is extracted from the victim as collateral for a supposed share in a large sum of discovered money, dishonest profits, or gambling winnings, which in fact are nonexistent.

1935–40, Americanism; so called because such swindles orig. began with the dropping of a wallet in front of the intended victim, the pigeon

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The lottery scam is as seasonal as baseball and as prolific as the pigeon drop.
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