News and Press Releases

Shoreline Man Recruited Drug Addicts to Steal ID Information, Commit Fraud

October 16, 2006

WARREN ARMSTEAD, 50, of Shoreline, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle by the Honorable James L. Robart to 210 months in prison, five years of supervised release and $190,000 in restitution for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and nine counts of Bank Fraud. ARMSTEAD was convicted following a five day trial in March 2006.

According to testimony at trial, between 2002 and 2004, ARMSTEAD was the leader of an extensive identity fraud/ bank fraud scheme. ARMSTEAD recruited drug addicts to break into homes and cars to steal identifying information. ARMSTEAD sometimes burglarized the homes himself, breaking into residences in some of Seattle’s most expensive neighborhoods. With the stolen documents, ARMSTEAD had forgers make fake identifications that co-conspirators used to go into banks and businesses and commit fraud. ARMSTEAD would demand half the take from his underlings. More than 150 people have been identified as victims of ARMSTEAD’s ring. In all the group racked up more than $400,000 in losses. All nine charged members have been convicted and all, but one, have been sentenced.

ARMSTEAD has 20 years of criminal history, but before today had never been sentenced to more than 50 months in prison.

In asking for a lengthy sentence, prosecutors wrote to the court about the damage of identity theft. “The victims of these crimes spend endless hours trying to regain what is so organically their own – their identity. When Armstead stole these victims’ identities, in some ways, he stole their
lives. The victims feel the violation of having their most personal information exposed and compromised, the most intimate details of their lives known by strangers who seek to exploit them,” they wrote to the court in their sentencing memo. In court today, Assistant United States Attorney Tessa Gorman recounted the “parade of horribles” that Armstead left in his wake, including victims’ ruined credit histories and shattered senses of security.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Lynnwood Police Department, and the King County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tessa Gorman and Carl Blackstone as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Assistant United States Attorney Tessa Gorman at (206) 553-7970.

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