The Bellevue Police are warning the public about fraud scams where suspects are targeting vulnerable, trusting individuals, senior citizens and individuals for whom English is a second language.
The police have seen three recent cases that occurred in July, September and October. The scam artists use a ruse connected to a charity or some sort of financial windfall that have a connection to South Africa. The perpetrators of this scam typically target individuals who are entering or exiting a bank by confiding in the victims about their mistrust of U.S. banks and soliciting their help with a large deposit.
In one case, the suspects, a male and female who were working as a pair, approached the victim. One of the suspects had $20,000 in cash and claimed he would like to deposit the money in the bank but didn't trust banks. The other suspect, acting as the "good guy," then put on a show of trying to convince his partner scammer that banks are safe. Then the second suspect "gained the trust" of the first by withdrawing $12,000 from the bank to prove the reliability of banks in front of the targeted victim. The first suspect then indicated that he might trust banks if the victim would perform the same demonstration. The two suspects worked together in manipulating the victim and eventually convinced the victim to withdraw $2,000 in cash. The victim withdrew their money and gave it to the suspects. Both suspects then ran away with the targeted victim’s money.
In the three recent cases the suspects are described as:
• Dark skinned, black male, mid- 30-50’s, 5’-08”, 150 lbs., small black afro/brown eyes, wearing dark clothing. Suspect spoke with a South African accent.
• Light skinned black male, mid- 30’s to 50’s, 5’-09”, 170 lbs., short black hair, well-spoken and neatly dressed. This suspect is very convincing and also has a South African accent.
• Light skinned black female, mid- 50’s, 5’-04”, 200 lbs., black short hair, brown eyes, well-spoken and neatly dressed. She is usually partnered up with one other male suspect. She also speaks with a South African accent.
Below is a picture of one of the suspects in a recent case. He was working with another male described as a black male, 6’2” about 65-years old wearing a tuxedo. If you can identify the male in the picture below, please contact the Bellevue Police Department immediately, either by calling 911 or by emailing Crime Prevention Det. Richard Chinn, RChinn@bellevuewa.gov.
Any citizen who has been a victim of a similar scam should contact Det. James Brack at (425) 452-6910. Anyone who finds themselves being approached by suspects matching those described in this scam should call 9-1-1 immediately and attempt to get any license plate associated with the suspects.
Attached are some safety tips. Don't be a victim of scams.
• Contact companies directly if someone wants information from you
• Take your time (don’t be pressured)
• Only give out personal/financial information if you initiate contact
• Be wary of out of country transactions
• Be wary of wire transfers
• Be wary of up-front payments
• Educate Senior Citizens about in-person scams and/or phone scams
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