TIGARD, OR (KPTV) - A major scam bust led to five arrests and the seizure of more than 300 Apple devices, according to Tigard police.
The Tigard Police Department worked with federal and other local law enforcement agencies to serve warrants last week near Portland, as well as in Beaverton and Oregon City.
Investigators said the scam operation involved calling people and claiming the victims needed to pay money by using gift cards. The scammers instruct the victims to purchase a gift card and relay the card number back, at which time intermediaries quickly use the funds at stores to purchase Apple products.
The purchases were mainly made in Tigard, according to police.
The intermediaries claim to be legitimate electronics resellers and ship the devices out of the country. The seized items included Apple watches, iPhones, AirPods and iPads.
Early this year, the Tigard Police Commercial Crimes Unit reviewed multiple police reports involving victims purchasing Apple gift cards. Detectives said by the time the victims realized they were being scammed, the gift card balances had been spent.
The suspects who were arrested were identified as:
- Ying Zhang, 26, of Portland.
- Yiran Liang, 29, of Portland.
- Gongchao Liu, 23, of Beaverton.
- Can Wu, 24, of Beaverton.
- Yu Sun Johnson, 26, of Oregon City.
The first four suspects face felony charges of first-degree theft and computer crime. Johnson faces the felony charge of computer crime.
Warrants were served at the following locations:
- 7700 block Southwest Cirrus Drive, Beaverton
- 7800 Southwest Nimbus Avenue, Beaverton
- 6500 Southwest Firlock Way, Portland, unincorporated Washington County
- 12200 block Northwest Barnes Road, Portland, unincorporated Washington County
- 13000 block Southwest Tapadera Street, Beaverton
- 400 block of Roosevelt Street, Oregon City
Tigard police were assisted by the FBI, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Oregon City, Tualatin and Beaverton in serving the warrants.
The Tigard Police Department released a statement about the case and scam awareness:
Scammers use high-pressure tactics to coerce victims to act before they have time to think or do their research. These schemes may include threats of arresting victims who fail to pay immediately. Tigard Police reminds the public to be wary of receiving calls, emails, or texts from people claiming that you owe money and must pay now with gift cards, prepaid credit cards, or wire transfers; these payment methods are chosen because they are difficult to recover once the information is provided to the scammers. Additionally, government agencies will not call you unsolicited demanding payment. If you are concerned that you do owe money, please find the contact information for the agency using a reputable source and call the agency directly to verify.
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