Con Man Gains Quick Cash With Sob Story

A North Texas couple says a con artist who preys on churches and synagogues took its money too. 

"We thought we were doing the right thing for the right reason," Liz Cockburn said. 

She said she opened her heart and her door to a well-dressed man who said his father had died that morning.

Cockburn said he told her that, "his mom was in the ICU and he was trying to get a ride to the airport and a plane ticket."

The man, who identified himself as Alan Farha, told Cockburn that he was looking for the rabbi who lived next door. He told her that he had been sent by a synagogue in Fort Worth who had given him a check for $150.

Cockburn said at the time she thought, "if they would give him money and send him over here … well maybe he has credibility."

However, she said, in hindsight she saw red flags when she offered to buy him a $180 plane ticket over the phone.

"He was all over the couch saying, 'Hang up, hang up, hang up.' He said he had to have bereavement fare which was $350," she said.

Cockburn and her husband dropped the man off at the airport and gave him $110.  When they got home and looked him up, they said they found shocking headlines.

Cockburn read one of the headlines she found online: "It says, 'Scam artist, preys on sympathy time and time again.'"

She said that is when she realized that she had been conned.

"There's this man who was sitting at my house," Cockburn said as she stared at the man's photo online. "Look! That's him …. he's been doing this whole story all over the United States."

Flower Mound police said they are investigating. A Dallas rabbi has created a packet with information and pictures of Farha to warn other individuals.

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