SEATTLE — The search warrant came from a website and was signed by “Frank Abagnale,” a famous fraudster who Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”
The FBI credentials also were purchased online. The gun was a fake, and so was the guy’s story. A Lake Stevens man now faces federal charges for impersonating an FBI agent and robbing a Seattle business of nearly $130,000.
Federal authorities believe Steven W. Fisher used an elaborate scheme to weasel his way into Seattle businesses in an effort to rob them.
He’s accused of hitting one money-wiring business in Seattle’s Central District and making off with cash. At least two other businesses reported being targeted by Fisher, 43.
Fisher was expected in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Friday. He’s charged with one count of robbery, five counts of impersonation of a federal officer and one count attempted robbery.
Police are still investigating the crime spree and are asking anyone who may have had contact with Fisher to call the Seattle Police Department at 206-684-5540.
Federal court papers detail the allegations against the Lake Stevens man.
Just after 7 p.m. Jan. 25, a Seattle owner of a money-wiring business reported being robbed. He told investigators he heard a knock on the front door of his business on South Jackson Street. A man wearing a black three-piece suit with a red dress shirt identified himself as an FBI agent. He flashed a silver badge and said he had a search warrant. He accused the owner of conducting a bad transaction, according to court papers.
The owner copied the search warrant. He also showed the man his transactions. Fisher allegedly told the man he needed to go through boxes in a storage room.
The owner questioned the stranger and that’s when Fisher allegedly pulled a gun. He ordered the owner to open a safe and remove cash, totaling $128,259. He grabbed a computer tower and locked the owner in a back room. Fisher allegedly fled the store with the money and computer.
Investigators determined the search warrant was from a website that sells fraudulent paperwork. It was signed by Frank Abagnale, an infamous imposter who reportedly assumed dozens of identities.
A day later, the manager of a wiring service on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Seattle reported a suspicious encounter with a man who claimed to be an FBI agent. The man identified himself as Jack Ryan, the same name as a character in Tom Clancy books.
He warned the man that the FBI had information about a robber who planned to hit the business. He urged the man to remove all the cash from the store in case someone broke in. The manager said he’d have to check in with his supervisor. The suspect left but called later, asking about the cash and what kind of surveillance cameras were in use.
The man called 911. He called police a month later when the same man showed up again. Fisher allegedly removed fake FBI credentials from a briefcase. He said the robbery suspect had been arrested and he was there to collect surveillance files from the store.
Seattle police converged on the business, finding Fisher there. He told officers he was wiring money and denied posing as an FBI agent. He reported that his car was parked out back. Officers found it five blocks away.
It was later searched and police found an airsoft rifle, duct tape and leg manacles. They also discovered a sniper suit, Seattle City Light helmet, vest, goggles and marking paint. Stowed in the vehicle was a laptop, a two-way radio, body armor and a handgun with ammo.
Police searched his briefcase. Inside, they found a bifold wallet with fraudulent FBI credentials for “Jack Ryan.” The briefcase also held several pairs of handcuffs, bear spray, bolt cutters, a garrote, rope, black gloves and a realistic-looking gun with a silencer.
Seattle police last month searched an Everett storage unit rented by Fisher. Inside was paperwork taken from the robbery, according to court documents.
Police also heard from another business last week that had allegedly been targeted by Fisher in June. Once again the suspect allegedly claimed to be an FBI agent and wanted to talk about security cameras at the business.
The owner was suspicious and told Fisher he was too busy to talk.
The business was broken into the next morning. About $2,000, three phones and documents containing sensitive information were taken.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.