Fewer neighbors fall victim to scams in the county for 2013

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- There's no shortage of con artists trying to get your money here in Yakima County. However, not as many people reported falling victim to scams last year.

Scammers will target anyone and hope to find someone gullible. Paula Sisco-Givens lost 500 bucks after signing a contract with someone promising to be a matchmaker.

"She was very convincing," said Paula Sisco-Givens. "You're putting your heart on the line."

Paula was vulnerable after going through a painful divorce. She made the mistake by responding to a flier for something called Forever Soul Mates.

"When did the red flags go up?" asked KIMA.

"I guess the biggest red flag was when Julie called me because I had called and asked about the complementary makeover hairdo, whatever, my choice was at the beauty salon next door," said Paula." And, Julie called me and said 'did you contact the beauty salon directly' and I said 'no'. And she said 'oh good'."

Once she realized something was wrong, it was too late. Several phone calls were never returned.

Paula called the Better Business Bureau, which has two complaints against Forever Soul Mates and the company's rating is an F.

Despite Paula's experience, KIMA pulled the numbers and learned that reports of scams are down in Yakima County. They dropped by a fifth from 2012 to 2013.

Deputies arrested nine people in connection with scams last year.

"If you ask for a phone number to call them back, if they won't give it to you that's another red flag," said Duane Palachuk. "Just don't give them any information."

Duane Palachuk had a close call recently. He got a phone call from a man posing as a Pacific Power employee. He was smart enough to realize it was a scam and didn't give any personal information.

Pacific Power is aware of the problem and told KIMA it's received several complaints. And, put up a warning to customers on its website.

YPD hasn't broken down the number of its scam cases. They're classified under the fraud umbrella in the city. However, fraud cases are down from 615 in 2012 to a little more than 500 last year.