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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: con artists

Scammers claiming to be court collectors

Authorities are warning of con artists posing as debt collectors who dupe their victims into thinking they’ve got unpaid court fines that could lead to their arrests unless settled immediately.
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, the scammers are claiming to represent various courts located across Washington state and demanding that money be wired to them in order to prevent their arrests. Officials believe the scammers are setting their phone ID to make it appear they are calling from official court offices.
The Attorney General’s Office advises that courts never call people to collect debts and that courts discourage people from wiring money.

Con man admits swindling elderly aunt

Convicted bank swindler John Earl Petersen is pictured in 1997. (S-R archives)

A convicted con man already due to serve more than two years in federal prison has resolved a three-year-old identity theft case in Spokane County.

John Earl Petersen, 61, was sentenced Wednesday to 13 months in prison for swindling his elderly aunt out of her life savings.

Petersen, the key figure in the collapse of a Montana bank more than a decade ago, will serve the time concurrently with a 27-month federal sentence imposed last month for stealing nearly $170,000 from a brother and sister in 2006 after telling them they would receive $100 million in return.

Federal prosecutors said in 2008 that Petersen used more than $400,000 belonging to his 95-year-old aunt, Gunly Petersen, for personal use, including a lavish remodel at her home in the 1300 block of South Greene Street. He had moved her into a nursing facility and was to be overseeing her health and finances.

It's the latest for an admitted con man and frequent Las Vegas gambler who had a business office in Spokane when he was arrested in 1998, accused of masterminding the $10.5 million collapse of Montana Bank of Whitefish, Mont.

Petersen shocked federal authorities in December 2007 when he walked out of U.S. District Court in Spokane after reviewing paperwork indicating he would be taken into custody at the hearing.

He sped away in his Cadillac and was arrested five months later in Boulder, Colo., with a blond wig and books about changing identity.

Past coverage:

Feb. 1, 1998: Agent paints Petersen as loan-sharking mobster
  

Repeat con artist headed back to prison

Convicted bank swindler John Earl Petersen is pictured in 1997. (S-R archives)

A convicted bank swindler who boldly walked out of a Spokane courtroom three years ago to avoid arrest is headed to federal prison.

John Earl Petersen, the key figure in the collapse of a Montana bank more than a decade ago, was sentenced this morning to 27 months for stealing nearly $170,000 from a brother and sister in 2006 after telling them they would receive $100 million in return.

Petersen was convicted of wire fraud and tax evasion, the latest for an admitted con man and frequent Las Vegas gambler who had a business office in Spokane when he was arrested in 1998, accused of masterminding the $10.5 million collapse of Montana Bank of Whitefish, Mont.

Petersen, 61, admitted to bribing bank officials to allow him to cash phony checks. He served five years in prison after turning in co-conspiring bank officials. He was sent back in 2008 after investigators alleged he was misusing his 95-year-old aunt’s money.

At his parole revocation hearing in 2008, federal prosecutors said Petersen used more than $400,000 of her money for personal use, including a lavish home remodel.

Petersen was arrested on the new federal indictment just as he was to be released from SeaTac federal prison on Dec. 8, 2010.

He also is charged in Spokane County Superior Court with nine counts of felony theft for the alleged scheme against his aunt. Spokane County prosecutors were waiting for Petersen to resolve his federal case, which he did today after pleading guilty last May.

In addition to 27 months in prison, Petersen is to be on probation for three years and pay $167,794.94 restitution.

Petersen shocked federal authorities in December 2007 when he walked out of U.S. District Court in Spokane after reviewing paperwork indicating he would be taken into custody at the hearing.

He sped away in his Cadillac and was arrested five months later in Boulder, Colo., with a blond wig and books about changing identity.

Past coverage:

Feb. 1, 1998: Agent paints Petersen as loan-sharking mobster

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