Auburn Police arrested Michael Lou thanks to anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound. Lou is being held in the Snohomish Count jail on $50,000 bail. He is WMW Capture #828.
WANTED IN SNOHOMISH COUNTY —
The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit needs your help to find Michael Lou who may be in the Auburn area of King County.
The 36-year-old is accused of running an ID theft ring. “He gets people’s personal information including social security numbers, their family member’s names, phone numbers, addresses, everything you need to establish credit,” said Det. Margaret Ludwig.
Total losses that she knows of so far are at least $80,000.
“I have victims all the way down from far as Aberdeen, Olympia, all the way up to Lynden in Whatcom County,” said Det. Ludwig.
She says Lou and three others are targeting businesses like Pilchuck Rentals in Marysville where he used a fake ID to steal a $1,000 generator. “Got everything serviced for him and sent him on his way. A little while later, we get a call from a customer disputing the charge with the same exact name same address but completely different picture,” said owner Jesse Hall. It’s painful for businesses like his that try to set themselves apart by servicing the products, assembling them and even registering the warranties. “We wake up every single morning and try to do our best to get ahead and that really sets you back,” said Hall.
Detectives say Lou also stole a motorcycle from Lynnwood Motoplex. "It's a huge impact on our business. You're talking a $20,000 motorcycle that we have to basically take care of on the price for our own or settle through insurance which either way isn't good," said an employee there.
It's a multi-tiered crime with victims at every level, the innocent person whose identity and credit are now ruined, the business on the hook for the loss and the buyer who purchases the stolen merchandise that police will eventually confiscate.
The scheme is so clever that detectives say Lou is even matching the addresses on the fake ID's to the local stores where he is opening accounts. "Whereas for us, it was a Stanwood address so it didn't seem like it was out of place like he was coming from Redmond to come get a generator here," said Hall. To keep it from happening again, Hall has since purchased a UV light so they can check ID's for the watermark that proves a license is valid. "With that kind of effort he put in to doing this, he could have put that effort into doing something right for the community or with the community. He'd probably be a successful person. It's pretty sad that that's the only avenue that they can go with," said Hall.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to Lou's arrest. If you know where detectives can find him, call the hot line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit the information at www.crimestoppers.com