A 34-year-old man has been accused of bilking several older people out of more than $1,400 by convincing them that they had struck his car and needed to pay cash for repairs.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Tino Sabala with second-degree theft, three counts of third-degree theft, third-degree attempted theft and third-degree driving on a suspended or revoked license. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Most of the incidents took place in University Place, though investigators said additional victims continue to come forward.
According to charging papers:
Sabala told an 81-year-old woman she hit his car while pulling out of a Safeway parking lot May 10 and demanded $200 for repairs. He followed the woman to her home, where she wrote him a check.
Sabala approached a 74-year-old man in a Safeway parking lot May 12 and accused the man of driving recklessly and striking his vehicle. The man offered to call police, but Sabala threatened him and then forced him to withdraw $300 from the bank for damages.
He also had the man buy about $516 worth of items at a nearby store.
That same day, Sabala pulled the scam with an 85-year-old woman at a Fred Meyer, prosecutors say. Though the woman initially wrote him a check, she took it back and gave him $100 in cash.
A 76-year-old woman refused to hand over money when Sabala insisted she had hit his car and should pay $100. The woman offered her insurance information but stood firm when Sabala threatened to call police.
Sabala was arrested May 15 during a traffic stop. When investigators asked if he had been involved in the scam, he denied it. When Sabala was shown surveillance footage of him with one of the victims at a store, he said “he did not feel like talking or answering any more questions,” according to charging email@example.com