Tigard Police along with federal and local law enforcement agencies served multiple search warrants in Beaverton, unincorporated Portland, and Oregon City. The search warrants related to ongoing criminal activity where scammers operating out of the country demanded payment by Apple gift cards while criminal intermediaries located in the Portland metro-area quickly used the funds at stores in the Portland metro-area, specifically in Tigard. The following locations were searched:
- 7700 block SW Cirrus Dr, Beaverton
- 7800 SW Nimbus Ave, Beaverton
- 6500 SW Firlock Way, Portland (unincorporated WA County)
- 12200 block NW Barnes Rd., Portland (unincorporated WA County)
- 13000 block SW Tapadera Street, Beaverton
- 400 block of Roosevelt Street, Oregon City
The following people, operating as intermediaries, were arrested:
- Ying Zhang from Portland, 26 year-old, Theft I-other and Computer Crime (felony)
- Yiran Liang from Portland, 29 year-old, Theft I-other and Computer Crime (felony)
- Gongchao Liu, from Beaverton, 23 year-old, Theft I-other and Computer Crime (felony)
- Can Wu, from Beaverton, 24 year-old, Theft I-other and Computer Crime (felony)
- Yu Sun Johnson, from Oregon City, 26 year-old, Computer Crime (felony)
Additionally, over 300 devices were seized including Apple watches, iPhones, AirPods, and iPads. Hundreds of used gift cards were also discovered.
This operation relates to a trend in the last few years where scammers ask victims to pay them with gift cards. Whether it involves a social security, IRS, jury, computer support, or emergency scam, the fraudster instructs the victim to purchase a gift card and relay the card number over the phone, by email or text. By the time the victim realizes they have been defrauded, the gift card balance has already been depleted and they are unable to recover their money.
Early in 2019, Tigard Police Commercial Crimes Unit (CCU) Detectives reviewed multiple police reports where victims, residing in Tigard and other jurisdictions in Oregon and other states, reported fraud involving Apple gift cards. By the time they realized they were being scammed, the gift card balances had already been spent at Apple stores in the Portland metro-area, specifically in Tigard.
Working with Apple and federal agents, CCU determined that scammers often operating out of the country were using paid intermediaries located in United States to spend balances obtained from stolen Apple gift cards on bulk purchases of iPhones and other products at Apple stores. The intermediaries, claiming to be legitimate electronics resellers, would then ship the devices out of the country. Detectives were able to identify several individuals and businesses located in Clackamas and Washington Counties involved in this scheme.
Tigard Police would like to thank the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Oregon City, Tualatin and Beaverton Police Departments; and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for assisting Tigard Police in the service of these search warrants.
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.
For media inquiries regarding this press release, please contact Commander Robert Rogers at 503-718-2551.
Source: Tigard Police