A Lake Stevens, Washington man who used fake credentials in the names of fictional characters or famous fraudsters to commit crimes was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison for seven federal felonies, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. Steven W. Fisher, 44, pleaded guilty in July 2018 to one count of robbery, five counts of impersonation of a federal officer, and one count of attempted robbery.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said, “This was a long-term calculated crime… attacking a marginalized community. You picked the most vulnerable group of people I know…. You did a despicable thing to people who deserved better.”
“Robbery is a frightening crime — especially when it appears to be at the hands of someone in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “This defendant’s actions were no joke — he did real harm to real people who were just trying to run their small businesses and thought they were responding to requests from a federal law enforcement officer. The victims will likely never look at a law enforcement officer the same way again. A lengthy sentence in federal prison sends a clear message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated.”
According to records filed in the case, on January 25, 2017, Fisher gained access to the secure area of a small money transmitting business in Seattle’s Central District by claiming he was a federal agent investigating a suspicious transaction. Fisher flashed a badge, and handed the owner a ‘search warrant’ signed by ‘Frank Abagnale’ — a famous serial fraudster portrayed in the movie “Catch Me if You Can.” The warrant was purchased via the website Legalfakes.com. Fisher then pulled a weapon on the owner, demanded he open the safe and locked the owner in a back room. Fisher left with a large amount of cash and took computer equipment which contained surveillance video from the security system.
Fisher was identified as the suspect following a series of incidents in July and August, 2017 at a different money transmitting business in the Rainer Valley. In those incidents, Fisher used the name “Jack Ryan,” a character in Tom Clancy novels. In July, Fisher asked the manager of the money transmitting business to meet him at a nearby parking lot to discuss information that someone was planning on robbing his business. Fisher tried to get the manager to describe the surveillance cameras at the business and suggested he remove cash from the business. The manager instead called 9-1-1 and reported the suspicious conduct to police. One month later, when Fisher showed up at the money transmitting business, again claiming to be an FBI Agent, the manager hit the panic alarm and Seattle Police officers arrived to question Fisher. Fisher was taken into custody and court authorized searches of his car, storage locker, and briefcase turned up fake federal credentials, a realistic appearing airsoft pistol with silencer, and paperwork tying him to the earlier robbery.
In the plea agreement, Fisher admitted that in June 2017, he went to two SeaTac businesses posing as a federal agent. One of the small businesses offers money transmitting services. The ‘agent’ claimed he was looking for surveillance footage because of a crime in the area. Because the store owner was suspicious about whether Fisher was actually an FBI agent, he simply said the surveillance cameras were not working. In the early morning hours following that encounter the store was burglarized and $2000 in cash, checks and phones were stolen. Some of the stolen items were later found in Fisher’s possession.
Judge Robart ordered Fisher to pay $125,000 in restitution to the victim businesses.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca Cohen.