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Students get expelled over alleged financial scam
By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror
At least seven Federal Way High School students appear to have been involved in a scam in which students' debit cards and personal identification numbers were willingly sold and later allegedly used to commit financial fraud.
Two students allegedly solicited the material from at least three of their peers and offered money in exchange for the debit cards and PINs, according to a Nov. 2 search warrant affidavit. Information gathered by Federal Way police suggests the materials were then provided to another student who passed the materials on to a Federal Way man and a Tacoma man, according to the document.
The men are believed to be connected to a scam in which thousands of dollars in fraudulent checks were deposited into the students' accounts, then later withdrawn using the debit cards and PIN numbers, according to the affidavit. Fraudulent transactions that took place with the use of two students' bank information totaled a little more than $9,738, according to the affidavit.
It is unclear in the affidavit if all the students knew their bank information would be used for financial fraud. Two of the students revealed to police that they were offered $500 and $1,000 by the two middlemen, who solicited them for their debit cards and PINs, according to the affidavit. Both students told police they had little or no money in their accounts when they sold their information, according to the document.
A parent of one of the students made the school district aware of the happenings, according to the affidavit. Two students were expelled from the high school when the school district learned of their involvement in the crime, Federal Way School District spokeswoman Diane Turner said. Five other students have been suspended until police finish their investigation, she said.
"The health, safety and welfare of our students is of great concern," Turner said.
The students' names, and the dates they were removed from Federal Way High School, are not being released by the police or the school district because of the ongoing investigation. The school district wishes to avoid impeding the police department's work, Turner said.
"We don't want to do anything that identifies the students," she said.
To the school district's knowledge, the incident took place only at Federal Way High School, but the scope of the scam is not yet known, Turner said. This is not something that has taken place in the school district before, to Turner's knowledge, she said.
"We had no prior knowledge (of this type of fraud happening at school)," she said.
Federal Way police are not commenting on their investigation of the crime and were unable to say if the incident only took place at Federal Way High School. They do not want to compromise the investigation or any possible future prosecution of the individuals by commenting on the case, police spokeswoman Stacy Flores said. Police are unsure as to how long the investigation may last, she said.
"It may take a little bit of time because there are other jurisdictions involved," she said.
Once the police have finished their work, discussions between them and the school district will take place and the necessary information will be provided to students and parents, Turner said.
"We don't want to speculate or make any assumptions until the police have finished their investigation," she said.
Contact Jacinda Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565.