Editors note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.
May 30: The pigeon-drop queens found another mark. This time, the take was $18,000.
The mark was a 73-year-old Tacoma woman who fell for the old con. Shed stopped at the post office on 27th Street West in University Place. She noticed a stocky woman, about 40, wandering in the parking lot, looking confused and forlorn.
The stocky woman was Queen One. She said her name was Tameka. She spoke with a thick accent. She said shed just arrived from Africa, and wanted to donate $325,000 to two trustworthy people.
The Tacoma woman was interested. Queen One asked for a ride to a nearby drug store, where someone might be able to help. The Tacoma woman agreed. At the drug store, they met Queen Two. She was taller and thinner than Queen One, also about 40. She called herself Deborah.
Queen One told the two women they had to prove they could be trusted. Queen Two said she could withdraw cash from a nearby bank. The Tacoma woman drove to the spot. Queen Two went inside and returned with a wad of cash.
She said it was $30,000. She handed it to Queen One.
Queen One turned to the Tacoma woman. Now it was her turn. The Tacoma woman said she didnt have that much money. Queen One asked about credit cards. The Tacoma woman said she had one, but her limit was $20,000. Queen
One told her to get a cash advance.
The Tacoma woman, hooked like a trout, walked into the bank and withdrew $18,000. She returned to her car and handed the cash to Queen One, who wrapped the money in a bandanna, said it was blessed, and placed it in the glove box.
The queens needed a ride. The Tacoma woman drove them to an apartment complex in University Place and dropped them off. Queen One warned her not to open the glove box until she got home.
The Tacoma woman drove home, opened the glove box and unwrapped the bandanna. It was stuffed with crumpled newspapers. She called police, who filed a report under fraud and asked a forensics team to examine the car.
Almost six months earlier, on Jan. 6, two women played the same con on a 76-year-old Gig Harbor woman and took her for $5,000. The incident site, a grocery store parking lot on South 19th Street, was about half a mile from the University Place post office.
The suspect descriptions were similar: two black women, one short and stocky with a thick accent (she said she was from Sierra Leone), the other tall and slender and willing to help. The story was similar: a plea for help with donating money, a ride to a bank, a test of trust and vanished cash.
May 30: Two padlocks on the clothing donation box didnt deter the Tacoma man. He wanted a coat, and he meant to get it.
The box stood at the corner of South 56th and Bell streets. The man, 55, fished it with a long pole. He was engrossed.
The task required precision.
Nearby, a police officer in a marked patrol car watched for a while. He waited until the man hooked a big black coat and a plastic bag full of clothes.
The officer drove forward and made a show of it. The man noticed, and started stuffing the coat and the bag back into the box.
The officer asked the man what he was doing. The man said he was trying to get a coat because he was cold. The officer asked why the man thought he could help himself to a padlocked donation box. The man said he wanted a coat.
A background check revealed he was under active supervision by the state Department of Corrections. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of third-degree theft.
May 30: The phone scammer pushed the wrong victim, and fled into the cyber-ether.
The 40-year-old Tacoma man told police mysterious charges were showing up on his debit card, and his bank account had been drained.
At the same time, someone calling himself Travis Walker was hounding him on the phone to pay off a loan immediately. The man hadnt applied for a loan.
A police officer told the man to call Travis. The man pushed the speaker button and called. The officer listened.
I heard a lot of electronic noises and cross-talk, which to me sounded like the call was being transferred to several networks before finally being connected, the police report states.
Travis answered. The man said a police officer said the claim of owed money was a hoax.
Travis got mad. He threatened to turn the man in to police, and said the man would go to federal prison for six years.
At this point I took over the call, the officer states in the report. I identified myself as a Tacoma police officer and gave my name. I asked Travis who he worked for, what the loan was for and the total dollar amount owed.
Travis was flustered. He said he didnt believe the officer. The officer provided more proof. Did Travis want to check it?
Travis didnt. The officer said he was filing a report of telephone harassment. Travis spluttered and mumbled something about his company being owed. He wouldnt give the companys name or address. He hung up.
The officer told the man not to take any more calls from Travis and filed the report.
Looking over the report, police spokesman Mark Fulghum scoffed.
Theres no debtors prison, he said.