Fake names, fake prescriptions — lots of codeine cough syrup

Online he went by Breadwinner Breadwinner. He’s charged with recruiting women for prescription fraud.

STANWOOD — A Seattle man using a fake name, Breadwinner Breadwinner, offered $100 bills to “innocent looking” women to pick up painkillers with forged prescriptions around the Pacific Northwest, according to detectives.

The man, 21, was charged last week with leading organized crime, identity theft and forgery for a series of frauds in Everett, Marysville and Stanwood that began 2½ years ago.

A Stanwood detective uncovered his “organized and far-reaching enterprise,” prosecutors wrote.

On the evening of Oct. 21, 2016, a man in a puffy green coat told a pharmacist at the Marysville Safeway he was picking up cough syrup with codeine. It’s the active ingredient in a street cocktail known as “lean,” “purple drank” or “sizzurp.” The man was trying to pick up an unusual amount of the drug. He handed over paperwork with a female patient’s name, according to charging papers.

The pharmacy called the doctor, who said she didn’t sign the prescription. Police were called too. By then the man had left.

Under an hour later, a man in a green puffy coat tried to do the same thing at a nearby Rite Aid.

Court papers show the suspect was arrested for investigation of forging a prescription for the same drug near Gresham, Oregon, where he’d used a fake last name. Security footage showed him wearing a green ski coat, according to the charges. Within a week of being released from jail, local detectives believe he used the same fake name to try to get prescription cough syrup from a Safeway in Everett on Nov. 12, 2016.

Prosecutors allege the defendant would call ahead claiming to be the patient or a family member, and that a son or daughter would be showing up to pick up the painkiller. Then he would wait until 5 p.m. or later, when many medical offices have closed for the day, so the pharmacy could not confirm the records.

In the Everett case, someone called in advance claiming to be a mother, saying she was new to the area, and that her son would stop by soon for her medication.

A young man showed up in the late afternoon and gave the same 206 area code phone number from the Marysville frauds, charging papers say.

Again, he wanted to pick up an unusual amount of codeine. The pharmacist found the supposed prescriber did not work at the office listed on the paperwork.

By summer 2017, the man was using another tactic: recruiting women through Facebook, where he went by Breadwinner Breadwinner, to carry out fraud for him, the charges say.

One woman was caught trying to use a bogus prescription June 20, 2017, at a pharmacy in Anacortes. She reportedly told detectives she’d been recruited by a friend she’d known since eighth grade, and he’d offered her $100 to $200 per bottle of the codeine-laced syrup she could acquire through forgery. She recounted being picked up by the man in a gray BMW, and driving with him to a library in Lynnwood to make prints on special prescription paper. Her job, she reported, “was to be the innocent-looking person who presented the prescription.”

Another woman tried to get 60 tabs of oxycodone from a Safeway on Bainbridge Island on Aug. 2, 2017, with a prescription from a doctor who no longer worked at the clinic on the paperwork.

She told police she’d responded to a Facebook post where Breadwinner Breadwinner had asked people if they wanted to make some money.

Police asked her if she’d seen any pictures of the man on his Facebook page, according to a search warrant filed in the case.

“Yeah, with hella cash,” she replied.

Police responded to the Rite Aid in Stanwood on Aug. 23, 2017. A third woman told officers that a man — whom she identified by his legal name — offered her $100 to use a forged prescription.

Police stopped a gray BMW outside the Rite Aid. The man insisted to officers that he’d just been at the pharmacy to get a drink, but he had changed his mind.

Later the woman recounted how she’d known the man since middle school and had reconnected over Facebook. He gave her a story to tell the pharmacist: Her name would be Isabella, and she was picking up a prescription for her mother. He reportedly told her he’d stolen the paperwork from his own mother. She gave police the man’s phone number — the same digits from the Everett and Marysville cases.

Police got a warrant to review cell tower data for the man’s phone. It showed he’d been making calls in the Marysville area Oct. 21, 2016; in Everett on Nov. 12, 2016; in Anacortes on June 20, 2017; and in Stanwood on Aug. 23, 2017.

He was charged with five felony counts last week.

A summons was mailed to his family home in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle.

His arraignment is set for May 17.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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