Bellevue couple loses $1 million in vaccine scam

Police are investigating a scam involving a 91- and 78-year-old Bellevue couple who lost $1 million to fraudsters who tricked them into believing that they sent fake vaccines to China. 

According to Bellevue Police, the couple received a phone call claiming the couple sent fake vaccines overseas and that they were going to be sued. 

The couple said they weren’t the senders, but the scammer told them they'd have to file a police report to "prove their innocence." 

The couple then received a call from someone claiming to be a police officer in China threatening to arrest and deport them to China.

The couple wired money as directed, but the scammers said that wasn’t enough and again threatened them with deportation, so they wired more money. 

RELATED: Woman shares experience of getting scammed

The scammers were in Singapore and spoke the couple’s native language, Mandarin. 

"This elaborate fraud preys on the victim’s vulnerabilities to devastating effect," said Bellevue Police Maj. Travess Forbush. "We cannot emphasize enough that the police will never contact you and ask for money instead of being arrested or deportation."

This is the second fraud case like this in the region. The other case involves a $750,000 loss.

Bellevue Police offered the following tips to help you and your loved ones avoid scams: 

  • Tell friends, loved ones, and neighbors to always hang up on callers claiming to be government officials asking for money. 
  • Delete all similar emails or emails saying you’ll receive money by sending your personal information. 
  • If you think there’s a chance something might be legitimate, call your local authorities or agency and verify it before ever sending any money or gift cards.

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