KENNEWICK -- A 47-year-old man who fell prey to an internet scam is doing five days in jail for opening a bank account and moving money that was transferred to him from an unsuspecting victim.
Robert Randle Carron was suspicious about what he had been asked to do by a company named Ardex. But he stuck with it because he believed he was taking money from purchasers of construction supplies and transferring it to the sellers of the supplies, court documents said.
Carron pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to attempted second-degree trafficking in stolen property, a gross misdemeanor. The jail sentence included 360 days suspended.
Deputy Prosecutor Megan Bredeweg agreed to reduce the charge to an attempted crime because Carron had "very little criminal history" and was the victim of an internet scam.
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Carron, of College Place, reportedly was contacted last fall by a person he met through eBay.
Carron was asked to open an account, receive money transfers and then transfer a portion of it to other people via Western Union, court documents said. He was told he could keep the portion that was not forwarded as his fee.
So between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1, six money transfers were made into Carron's Gesa Credit Union account. Richland police were alerted when a man realized six wire transfers had been made out of his savings account, and records showed the money was moved to Carron's account, documents said.
Carron told investigators he believed he was doing business with Ardex. Emails with his initial contact showed Carron questioning the transactions, "and being told that the company did not want to (do) business with a person who was so 'suspicious,' " court documents said.
Carron repeatedly asked for more information to "protect himself," yet he didn't stop doing it until he was caught, documents said.
Pasco man accused of ID theft, witness tampering
KENNEWICK -- A Pasco man is accused of using a former co-worker's name and Social Security number to rent a duplex and open a utility services account.
Then, when the victim started receiving collection notices, John Gilbert Jojola allegedly threatened to make it look like the victim was in on the scam if the charges weren't dropped.
John Gilbert Jojola, 28, pleaded innocent to first-degree identity theft and tampering with a witness. His trial is set Oct. 10.
Court documents claim that sometime between June 24, 2010, and Dec. 14, Jojola used the identity of Llimmy I. Ramos Torres to open an account with Benton PUD and rent the duplex from Celski and Associates.
Ramos Torres discovered the identity theft in May, when Benton PUD started demanding more than $300. Also, Jojola owes more than $1,700 in unpaid rent and damages for the duplex, documents said.
Ramon Torres told Kennewick police he thinks Jojola got access to his identity when they worked together for West Communication.
However, Jojola claims the men had shared an apartment and said Ramon Torres opened the utility services account and signed the duplex lease, court documents said. He couldn't explain why Ramon Torres would have the PUD bill sent to the home of Jojola's parents or list Jojola's child's mother as his emergency contact, documents said.
A neighbor and the property management company reportedly picked Jojola from a photo montage as the person who rented the duplex. The property management employee said Jojola was the man who signed the agreement in person on Dec. 14 to pay his delinquent rent, using Ramon Torres' name, court documents said.
After being questioned by police on June 4, Jojola called Ramon Torres and demanded that he drop the charges or he would put the blame on the victim, documents said.
Jojola has been ordered to have no contact with Ramon Torres while the case is pending.
* Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org