EVERETT — A 36-year-old woman would stay in vacation rentals and rummage through belongings owners left behind. With tidbits of personal information, she allegedly opened bank and credit card accounts in the owners’ names.
More than $50,000 was reportedly stolen.
The Everett woman was arrested in early January on suspicion of 54 felonies following a lengthy investigation by the Everett Police Department’s financial crimes unit. She has since been charged in Everett District Court with identity theft and forgery.
Prosecutors are reviewing additional cases involving the woman.
In August, an identity-theft victim told police someone had opened a BECU credit card in her name, in addition to other credit card accounts.
She had lost $30,000 by that point, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The woman made 51 transactions on a credit card registered to the victim over a span of 16 days, police allege in court papers.
Records show the woman spent nearly $800 on purses at a Coach outlet store and about $1,160 at a Walmart in Marysville.
The transactions do not include the cash that was reportedly withdrawn or transferred into fraudulent accounts.
The woman allegedly opened multiple accounts online with BECU under the victim’s name. She claimed she worked for Boeing and earned more than $17,000 a month, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Two other people had their personal information stolen, such as their Social Security numbers and birthdates, according to the affidavit. The woman also allegedly obtained someone’s phone number, physical characteristics, driver’s license number, previous addresses, names of relatives and their ages, police said.
A financial crimes detective distributed photos around the police department of the woman making a transaction at a BECU location.
In December, an Everett police officer was in the McDonald’s parking lot along Colby Avenue when he saw someone in a passing car who matched the woman in the photos.
That car was registered in the name of another identity-theft victim, according to the affidavit. The woman sitting in the passenger seat also was wearing the same bracelets and rings as the woman in the photos.
At the time of the arrest, the woman was carrying 13 memory cards and two cellphones.
The case demonstrates that people need to exercise caution when inviting others to rent their homes, Everett police Sgt. Matt Mekelburg said.
“We are continuing to investigate this suspect and expect to find additional information that leads to more victims,” he said in a press release. “It’s unfortunate that victims had their personal information stolen and used for criminal activity. While we understand the concept, we want people to recognize the risks of renting out their homes, and leaving personal information behind.”
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.