FBI Scouring PNW for $38M Fraud Suspects, Couple On the Run
The FBI has issued an alert for a Seattle pair who are on the run after they skipped a court date.
Former owners of precious metals business defrauded over $30 million
Bernard Ross Hansen, 61, and Diane Renee Erdmann, 49, of Auburn, are featured on a new FBI wanted poster. The former owners and operators of Northwest Territorial Mint had declared bankruptcy six years ago after being hit with a massive $38.3 million civil settlement brought by one of their nearly 3,000 victims whom they defrauded.
The pair were accused of running a fake company that bought, sold, traded, stored and leased gold, silver, and other precious metals and coin as well as bullion.
The FBI says by 2012 Hansen and Erdman (the company) did not have enough money to fulfill orders or pay off previous customers. Then, they continued to take orders but did not use the money for its intended purposes. An estimated 3,000 customers' orders were never fulfilled. The pair are accused of using all that money on personal expenses and lavish lifestyles.
Those victims say the FBI, were defrauded more than $10 million.
When you add this to the lawsuit judgment, they're on the hook for $48 million.
Couple skips court date, now in the wind
Monday of this week, they skipped their sentencing hearing, and the FBI says they were last seen leaving a hotel in Federal Way on May 1st. There have apparently not been any sightings of them since.
Officials say given the nature of the crimes they're facing, and desperation to escape, they could literally be headed anywhere, perhaps towards Tri-Cities.
The FBI says they do know so far, the couple pays for everything in cash to avoid any paper trails.