Category Archives: Financial Crime

Why Didn’t the YMCA Scam Suspects Go to Jail?

Story commenter fletc3her brought up an interesting point Wednesday morning on a story about people accused of using the YMCA to scam people for money.

“The criminals wandered off while the police were investigating the crime?” fletc3her posited.

Police officers, as we know, have much discretion in the job they perform, and that includes the decision to arrest someone. And of course, they have to make an on-the-spot decision based on the information they have at the time.

In this case, they’d received a 911 call from a woman saying she’d given some change to people claiming to be fund-raising for the YMCA. They immediately found two suspects, one of which didn’t take long to admit they were conning people, according to Bremerton police reports. That suspect even handed over $18 they’d taken right then and there.

But other than the 911 caller, police hadn’t yet found any other victims.

“Normally, we don’t arrest just based on confessions,” according to Bremerton Police Lt. Pete Fisher. “We usually try to corroborate them first.”

Please note the word “normally.” Obviously, Fisher said, the severity of the alleged crime would influence whether a person is arrested or detained.

Officers were already planning to forward their findings to the county prosecutor in the case, Fisher said. So given the time and manpower constraints and the fact the suspects appeared to pose no further danger to the community, the officers and sergeant handling the situation chose to continue digging and then send on their findings to prosecutors.

Either way, Fisher points out, the suspects will go to jail if, in fact, they are found guilty of impersonation in a court of law.

‘Granddaughter Needs Bail’ Scam Hits Bremerton Couple

Some of you may have heard of a relatively new scam in which the fraudsters attempt to be jailed grandchildren that need bail money in a foreign country.

Unfortunately, this Bremerton couple had not.

And so when they got a call from a woman claiming to be their granddaughter recently, they became immediately concerned. The scammers got her name right and the couple, in their late eighties, even have a grandchild of that name in New York state.

She was jailed in Ontario, Canada, according to the report filed with the Bremerton Police Department, for having been found with a small bag of pot. But a friendly “sergeant” informed them all they needed to do was wire almost $3,000 and she’d be out, with no record given to U.S. authorities.

The bail bondsman was located in Sydney, Australia.

It was all a lie, of course, with many red flags along the way. But they just didn’t know — so they wired the money.

Afterward, they called their real granddaughter, who was fine. And it began to sink in: they’d been scammed. They reported it to police Monday.

Bremerton Police Sgt. Kevin Crane said that not only is the couple embarrassed, but it was money they depended on for retirement.

When Does an Investment Loss Become a Crime?

County prosecutors have charged a Bremerton man with theft after some investors failed to see any returns from their investments with him. You might have read this story back in March. Basically, the investigators say the defendant didn’t pay back about $113,000 to four people who had bought into a plan to build ethanol plants, including one in Bremerton.

Some of the commenters on the story didn’t see that as a crime — but rather simply a lost investment.

“A buisnessman has an idea, gets investors, permits, formulates a plan and the plan fails,” commenter Mumbles wrote. “This happens all the time with no intention to defraud the investors. They hedged their bets on a plan that has failed … He had an idea, they liked it, it has not yet panned out. Move on.”

I consulted Chris Casad, chief of case management for the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, in an attempt to find out how this case is any different than, say, buying a bunch of stock and then seeing the stock price drop.

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Words of Advice from the Tax Man (as April 15 Approaches)


Life’s only certainties, most of us know, are death and taxes. Yet around 1,000 people a year are prosecuted in the U.S. for “evading their income taxes, willfully failing to file tax returns, filing false tax returns in order to obtain inflated tax refunds and other such tax crimes,” explains Kenneth J. Hines, the IRS Special Agent in Charge for the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to April 15 — “tax day” this year — Hines has issued a memo to help you avoid losing your life savings. Or worse — having the tax man come for you.

Here are his main areas of concern, as emailed to me by Dan Wardlaw, another IRS special agent:

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On Society, Federal Judge Proclaims: ‘We are in a Death Spiral’


At the sentencing of a Ponzi scheme orchestrator Friday in federal court in Tacoma, federal court judge Ronald B. Leighton used some of the time to lambaste society in general.

We live in a time in which athletes cheat, he said, and where entertainers beat their wives and girlfriends. Government officials choose — or choose not — to pay their taxes, he proclaimed. And he took particular aim at our current cause celebre, calling some on Wall Street “souless.”

Leighton (pictured) ended such a diatribe by saying of our democracy that, “We are in a death spiral.”

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