Pierce County man loses $5,400 to scam artists

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. – A 25-year-old Spanaway man is out $5,400 and his mother nearly coughed up another $3,000 as part of a well-oiled and somewhat complicated scam, the Pierce County sheriff’s department said.

Before we get to the nuts and bolts, a piece of advice: If somebody on the other end of the phone has bad news and is demanding gift cards to make it go away, it’s extremely likely you’re talking to a scammer.

In this case, the scammers used phone-number-spoofing technology and two separate cons to try to pry money out of the mother and son.

In the mother’s case, they told her that they’d kidnapped her son. They spoofed his number when they called her, demanding that she buy $3,000 worth of gift cards and give them the codes over the phone.

Fortunately, alert employees at the Albertsons on Canyon Road pieced together what was happening and called 911 before she could buy the cards.

In the son’s case, they scammers spoofed the phone number for the sheriff’s department, told the man there was an arrest warrant for him because he’d missed jury duty, and said he needed to buy more than $5,000 in gift cards to get out of it. Unfortunately for him, he bought the cards.

Here’s where this scam gets scary.

While talking to the woman, she asked them to prove they had her son and demanded to talk to him. So, the scammers got the man on the phone as part of his scam, conferenced him in with his mom, and convinced her it was legit.