A 49-year-old Rainier man christened the New Year by covering his face with his hands and kneeling on the ground.
But it wasn’t a happy gesture.
A Yelm police officer had just informed him he’d been the unwitting victim of numerous recent frauds and would be lighter in the pocketbook for the experiences.
Here are the details: On Tuesday, Jan. 5, the Yelm officer took a phone call from an irate man complaining about fraud that had occurred in Yelm. The man, though, wasn’t making much sense, so the officer asked to speak to his wife who said she had answered a Facebook advertisement for a home rental in Yelm.
The woman called the listed number for the ad and was instructed by the male on the other end — Rainier resident Brian Patrick Foley — to conduct a $500 Walmart money transaction as a rental deposit on the house.
The woman completed the transaction and went to the home, but when she arrived at the house she discovered it had been a scam and she was out $500, to boot.
The Yelm officer went to Walmart and assisted by the store manager located the transaction receipt and observed video footage of Foley making the transaction. The officer subsequently found Foley’s address through the department’s records management system, went to the address and spoke with Foley’s mother, who said her son lived at a different Rainier address.
The officer contacted Foley as he was arriving home and questioned him about the Walmart transaction. Foley was cooperative and admitted receiving money through the store transaction.
The Yelm officer then detained Foley in handcuffs in the rear of his patrol vehicle. Turns out Foley had been in contact with a man on Facebook named Robert Richie who periodically sent Foley a transaction number and names of people who would send Foley money through Walmart or Western Union.
Foley said he would obtain the money and deposit it at CoinMe, a bitcoin brokerage. He would subsequently photograph the Bitcoin purchase voucher and its redemption code, which enabled Richie to secure the funds from the code.
Foley said he had completed about $30,000 worth of these transactions but had never been paid the money Richie had promised him. At that point, the Yelm officer realized Foley was being scammed and that Foley didn’t know the true nature of the transactions in which he’d been involved.
The officer also observed what he called a “classic scam,” wherein Foley was to open an account at a Wells Fargo bank and Richie would deposit $25,000 in the account. Foley was then to withdraw $9,000 from the account and send it to Richie, with the promise that Foley would be able to keep the remainder of the money in the account.
The Yelm officer later discovered that the woman originally on the complaint phone call had not really called Foley, but another individual impersonating him. The officer then told Foley how he had been scammed, and that’s when Foley covered his face and knelt on the ground in grief.
Foley decided at that point to pay back the $500 to the woman who had called about the home rental, and she agreed to accept the money without any other complaints after the officer explained Foley’s unknowing involvement in the scam. Foley told the officer that he would no longer involve himself in the online transactions.