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AmericanWest wants CdA branch

AmericanWest Bancorp., the Spokane-based parent company of AmericanWest Bank, said it has asked for regulatory approval to open a branch in Coeur d’Alene.

The company said last week that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. recently lifted a 1-year-old enforcement action that had prevented the bank from opening new branches.

In anticipation of that move, the bank “has already entered into a ground lease for the branch site, contingent upon regulatory approval,” AmericanWest said in a press release. The new branch will be located in the Shopko Shopping Center at the northeast corner of Ironwood Drive and U.S. Highway 95, the bank said.

AmericanWest said it will open a temporary facility at the site early next year and hopes to have a permanent building finished by the fall of 2006.

Budget Inn renovations announced

The new owners of The Budget Inn in Spokane have announced plans for $2.2 million worth of renovations, including all new furnishings, a business center and high-speed wireless Internet service throughout the property.

Spokane Princess Properties LLC, owned by Wenatchee hoteliers Steven and Tanya Tramp, recently bought the inn from Red Lion Hotels Corp. for $5.3 million. The Budget Inn is located at 110 E. Fourth Ave.

Renovations to the 150-unit property began immediately and include new double-pane windows, new heat pumps in every room, a fitness center, expanded continental breakfast, and microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers and hair dryers in rooms. The new owners also are adding additional lighting to the parking lot and putting on a new roof.

The renovations should be complete by February, the Tramps said in a news release.

The Tramps also plan customer service training for all staff members.

British man sentenced for ‘phishing’ fraud

Preston, England A British man was sentenced to four years in jail Tuesday for masterminding a “phishing” fraud that stole identities and bank details from users of the eBay auction site.

Prosecutors said David Levi, 29, of Lytham, England, led a six-man gang that stole nearly 200,000 pounds ($360,000) from more than 160 people. They sent e-mails to eBay customers, pretending to be from eBay, asking for bank details.

Other gang members were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six months to two years.

“This was a coordinated and sophisticated fraud which took place over a 12-month period which required a determined and calculated approach,” said Judge Phillip Sycamore, presiding in Preston Crown Court.

“A large number of people lost a significant amount of money, and it is quite apparent that the use of a fraudulent eBay site was quite sophisticated,” Sycamore said.

In phishing schemes, fraudsters typically bait victims with e-mails purportedly from legitimate online businesses. The e-mails direct recipients to bogus Web sites, where they are asked to re-input information such as credit card numbers and passwords.