Another day, another scam being perpetrated on a community. This particular scam has been making its way across the State. Last month the first reports came in from the west side, now the east side is experiencing the scam first hand.
It plays on the one of our most basic human empathies…the desire to help someone in need. However the only need the scammers have is your money. Multiple reports of people being approached in the last week have been relayed to Washington State Patrol, who in turn have released guidance for motorists.
What is the Scam?
Motorists are being flagged down and approached on off ramps and freeways by the scammers who are pretending to be in need. In some cases the scammers are even stepping into the roadways and ramps to force vehicles to stop.
If a motorist stops for them, they will approach the car and begin weaving a tale of woe. They have run out of gas and need money to get home and do not have any money to get ‘back home’. The scammer will then offer to sell you personal items for any cash you may have.
The problems is what they are offering isn’t worth anything. Fake watches and fake gold jewelry top the list of the offerings. WSP warns that these conversations are usually aggressive in nature and result in more of a demand for money to help them. WSP warns the scammers are usually in higher end rental vehicles.
Three Attempts in One Week Have Something in Common
In the last week there have three reports and three encounters where WSP Troopers interacted with the scammer(s).
The first happened October 4th in Pasco on the off ramp for Road 100 and I-182 where the trooper approached one adult who said they ran out of cash and was selling airpods and jewelry.
The second happened October 7th on the off ramp from I-82 in Benton City where the trooper approached two men, one a teen and the other adult. They were selling gold and watches.
The third happened October 9th, again on the off ramp for Road 100 and I-182 where the trooper approached one adult who didn’t to selling anything, just that they were waiting on a friend.
In all three instances the adult produced a Romanian drivers license to the trooper. Prior to those encounters State Patrol received plenty of 911 calls about disabled motorists flagging people down from Yakima to Pasco.
The Dangers Presented
Outside of never knowing what a stranger may do, the scammers are in areas of roadways pedestrians are not permitted. Some reports have said the scammers are even stepping in front of cars to get them to stop.
WSP advises everyone not to stop and to call 911 and report as much detail about the location, person, and vehicle as you can. WSP can assist a truly stranded motorist or apprehend a scammer.
If you are an Eastern Washington victim of the scammers and want to file a report, contact Washington State Patrol’s tip line at 509-249-6742. If you want to read our previous report on the west side scammers, click here.
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Gallery Credit: Madison Troyer