(STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich.) -- If you're at the mall in Sterling Heights, Mich., don't assume that sweet, old lady in a hat just returned from the royal wedding. She might be there to rob you.
Police in the tiny Detroit suburb say an all-female criminal ring made up of middle-aged and elderly women are running a sophisticated con in which they allegedly pick the pockets of unsuspecting shoppers and use the stolen credit cards elsewhere.
Nicknamed the "Mad Hatters," the ring is made up of at least six women who frequently wear hats to disguise their identities and have allegedly swiped more than $500,000 in the past year and half, authorities say.
One bank alone estimated it had lost at least $200,000 at the hands of the hatters.
Some members of the group work as pickpockets, allegedly stealing credit cards and cash, usually from women at local shops. Other members commit the fraud, allegedly using the stolen cards to make purchases mostly in Macomb County but in the four surrounding counties as well.
The hats run the gambit from floppy beach hats to a variety of berets colored black, white and blue.
Police are investigating several leads that have come in since images of the women began circulating on Monday.
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