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KENT WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO BANK FRAUD AND AGGRAVATED ID THEFT - Alert Teller and Bank Customer Trigger Investigation Leading to Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2006

JANE ESTELLE LUNBECK, 48, of Kent, Washington, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle today to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft in connection with a scheme where she used stolen mail to create false IDs to raid other people’s bank accounts. LUNBECK faces a maximum of thirty years in prison on the Bank Fraud charge when sentenced Septermber 22, 2006, by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour. Under the new Aggravated Identity Theft Statute LUNBECK faces an additional two years in prison served consecutively to the Bank Fraud sentence.

According to records filed in the case, LUNBECK had mail from 36 different people at her Kent home at the time of her arrest. Investigators have tied her to some $19,000 worth of fraudulent withdrawals from other people’s bank accounts. In one instance LUNBECK withdrew $10,000 from one victims bank account.

LUNBECK was first identified as a suspect in the case when she attempted to withdraw $600 from a Columbia Bank account while posing as the account holder. LUNBECK was using the drive- through window at the branch in Fife. An alert bank teller called the home of the account holder, and the victim’s husband said the victim was out of the state. Apparently sensing a snag, LUNBECK drove away, leaving the phoney identifying documents (a temporary Washington State Drivers License and a Hazardous Materials Inspectors Identification card) behind. A witness who had been in one of the other drive through lanes told police the car the woman was driving had no license plates. After leaving the bank, the witness saw the same car pulling out of a motel parking lot, this time with license plates. The witness returned to the bank and gave police the plate numbers. The plates were registered to LUNBECK. Using LUNBECK’s own drivers license photo and bank surveillance video investigators were able to tie her to other fraudulent withdrawals. LUNBECK has been in custody since her arrest on April 10, 2006.

The case was investigated by the Fife Police Department and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi, as part of the United States Attorney’s Office new initiative to combat identity theft.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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