Bellevue police are warning the public about a fraud scheme happening outside banks that targets trusting, vulnerable people including senior citizens and people who may have trouble understanding English.
Police say the scammers, two men and a woman, wait outside banks. They speak with South African accents and tell their victims that they mistrust U.S. banks and want help in making a large deposit. There have been three cases since July.
In one case, one scammer told a victim he had $20,000 and claimed he wanted to deposit the money, but didn’t trust banks. The other scammer then acted as the “good guy,” and tried to convince his accomplice that banks were safe. The second scammer then "gained the trust" of the first by withdrawing $12,000 from the bank right in front of the victim.
The first scammer then indicated he might trust banks if the victim would do the same thing. The scammers worked together to convince the victim to withdraw $2,000. The suspects then grabbed the money and ran away.
There are three suspects involved in the frauds they are described as:
- Dark-skinned black male, mid-30s to 50s, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 150 pounds. He has a black afro and brown eyes. He wore dark clothing and spoke with a South African accent.
- Light-skinned black make, mid-30s to 50s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 170 pounds. He has short black hair, is well-spoken and neatly dressed and also spoke with a South African accent.
- Light-skinned Black female, mid-50s, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 200 pounds. She has short black hair and brown eyes, is well-spoken and neatly dressed and also spoke with a South African accent.
Anyone who can identify the suspects is asked to notify the Bellevue Police Department immediately by calling 911 or by emailing Crime Prevention Det. Richard Chinn at RChinn@bellevuewa.gov
Anyone who is approached by suspects matching those described in this scam should call 911 immediately and attempt to get any license plate associated with the suspects.
Anyone who has been a victim of a similar scam should contact Det. James Brack at (425) 452-6910.
Bellevue police also have these tips for avoiding a scam:
- Contact companies directly if someone wants information from you
- Take your time and don't be pressured
- Only give out personal or 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 phone scams