A Renton woman was about to get in her car in the Goodwill parking lot on Northeast Sunset Boulevard Jan. 7 when a well-dressed man walked up and asked her whether this black bank bag belonged to her.
It didn’t and she started to get into her car. He then suggested that they should look inside the bag to see if there was any identification.
He unzipped the bag and pulled out a $100 bill and then opened it all the way. The bag was “bursting with money,” the woman, who is 73, told Renton police investigators, maybe several bundles of cash.
She suggested he turn in the bag to a Goodwill security officer. But the man suggested they get in his car and turn in the money at a bank nearby on Duvall Avenue. She asked to see a Bank of America badge dangling from his neck.
There was a moment of silence, then he said, “you come with me.” She suggested he call 911 on his cell. He walked off as if making a call. Then he hurried up and got into a car and drove off recklessly through the parking lot.
She called her husband, who called police.
“It sounds like the start of the old bait-and-switch scam where the suspect says they came into or found a large amount of money they want to put it in the bank, but they want the victim to put up a large amount of money to prove they are trustworthy,” said Renton Police Commander David Leibman.
But he hasn’t heard of one in which a victim is asked to take a ride in a car, he said.
“I think anyone is at risk when they enter a stranger’s car; his intent, of course, is unknown,” he said.
His suggestion is to end the contact as quickly and pleasantly as possible – and take note of the subject’s appearance and get a license-plate number. And as soon as possible, call 911.
The next day the woman went to the Bank of America branch to explain what happened and ask whether employees wear a badge on a lanyard. They wear a name tag but not a badge, she was told.
But she did learn that that on the same morning as her incident an elderly man came into the bank branch asking for an employee named “Oliver.” They had found a bag of money, maybe $10,000, in the Fred Meyer parking lot.
There’s no one named Oliver at the branch.
His story was similar, except he found the bag next to his car. A man approached, wearing a Bank of America lanyard. The man, who said he was a bank employee, took the bag and asked the elderly man to meet him at the bank next door.
It took the elderly man some time to walk to the bank and by time he got there, the man with the bag of money was gone.