Bank teller foils bandits' plans for pastor

May 10, 2011 9:04:24 PM PDT
A couple of bandits were foiled Tuesday in their efforts to scam a church out of money.

The two men of African descent approached 80-year-old Deo Gokool inside a Home Depot. One claimed to have recently been awarded a $700,000 settlement after his brother died in an airplane crash.

"He said, 'Do you go to church?' I said, 'I'm a pastor,'" Gokool said.

The men said they wanted to donate a portion of it; they even produced a wad of cash.

Gokool said he'd use his church, The New Experience Worship Center in Olney, to disburse the money.

"I was looking old, I could be honest to distribute this money to the poor," Gokool said, describing why he thought the men might have approached him.

But now the men wanted to see good faith money from Gokool to verify he had his own cash and wouldn't abuse their fabricated goodwill.

Gokool drove with them to a PNC Bank in Olney, but their scam was about to fall apart. Gokool asked the teller to withdraw $5,000.

"The teller girl says, 'I will have to call police to escort you to your car,'" Gokool said.

"This is really the result of an astute and alert teller and a financial institution realizing something was awry," Sgt. Joe Cella of the Philadelphia Police Department said.

The teller called police. Officers arrived and approached the suspects. A foot chase ensued and one was arrested but another remains at large.

Despite almost being victimized, Gokool isn't angry at the suspects, but rather has a spiritual outlook.

"I would tell them to pray to God, change their wicked way and accept the Lord," Gokool said.

The names of the suspect have not been released.

Investigators are still trying to verify names as the hunt for one of the suspects continues.