Burien Police: Don’t Get Scammed In Parking Lots
Burien Police are warning South King County residents to be on guard against a “pigeon-drop” scam that originates in parking lots.
Detective Andy Skarr told The B-Town Blog that at least three such scams have occurred in Burien during the past year, adding it is believed to be a multi-jurisdictional problem.
Targets of the scam have been “older people in their 60s and 70s, well-dressed and driving nicer cars, who look like they have money.”
All victims known to the police “are people with a good heart who want to help, but who are getting scammed,” Skarr said. The amounts stolen have ranged from $5,000-$8,000 each time.
The scam artists are described as two women, both black and both in their mid-30s to mid-40s. One has a medium build, the other is taller and more slender. “They definitely have gotten their rehearsal down pretty good,” he noted.
This is their method of operation, as described by Skarr:
One suspect – speaking with an accent and claiming to be from South Africa – approaches a victim in a parking lot, and says she has just inherited a large amount of money.
But, the suspect adds, she is leaving the country and can’t take the money with her, so she wants to leave it to a church. “She ends up getting the victim to help her find a church or bank” where she can donate the money.
At this point, “the second suspect appears at random.” After also hearing about the plan from the first scam artist, the second suspect “offers to help them with the donation.
“Then they talk the victim into taking money out of the victim’s bank account” as an initial sign of trust – so, they claim, “they know they can put [the first suspect’s alleged inheritance] in the victim’s checking account.”
As the charade continues, the first suspect pretends to leave her “inheritance” with the other suspect as another sign of trust, then rides along as the victim drives around the block. When they return, the second suspect is still there – showing she can be trusted to make the deposit.
Next, as a final sign of mutual trust, the first suspect gives her “inheritance check” to the victim – and convinces the victim to leave the cash with her while the victim drives around the block again. But this time, both suspects stay behind.
When the victim gets back, both suspects are gone – and the victim soon discovers the “inheritance check” is bogus.
“There are probably several instances of this happening that we don’t know about, because these folks are embarrassed or don’t know if a crime has happened,” Skarr said.
Anyone who has been victimized by this scam or knows of someone else who has is asked to call 9-1-1.