‘Prolific fraudster’ stole $50,000, police say

Mukilteo woman arrested on 54 felonies to face charges in superior court
By Nicholas Johnson | Feb 08, 2017

A woman who allegedly rented a house fraudulently in Mukilteo was arrested Jan. 24 on suspicion of 54 felonies following a months-long investigation.

Alexia Dallas Devlin, 36, is suspected of stealing more than $50,000, according to Everett police, who have termed her a “prolific fraudster.”

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Teresa Cox filed three initial charges in district court Jan. 25, and the court set bail was set at $100,000.

Cox said she planned to arraign Devlin Feb. 3 in superior court on a charge of first-degree identity theft, but Devlin posted bond the day before and was released from the county jail.

“We were all set to arraign her in superior court, but she didn’t appear, so now we’ll have to summons her,” said Cox, who plans to file a charge of first-degree identity theft against Devlin this week.

“This is one of the most prolific identity theft cases I’ve seen,” Cox said. “She has created quite a bit of havoc out there.”

For several months, financial crimes detectives worked with the Mill Creek and Mukilteo police departments to investigate a substantial fraud ring, culminating in Devlin’s arrest.

Detectives believe Devlin used Airbnb and other vacation rental companies to target her victims. Upon moving into a rental, she would steal the personal information that the owners left behind as a means of creating new identities or taking over existing ones. With that information, she opened bank accounts, obtained credit cards and withdrew cash, according to detectives.

“We are continuing to investigate this suspect and expect to find additional information that leads to more victims,” Sgt. Matt Mekelburg said. “It’s unfortunate that victims had their personal information stolen and used for criminal activity.

“While we understand the concept, we want people to recognize the risks of renting out their homes, and leaving personal information behind.”

Everett police began investigating Devlin in August 2016 after a Boeing Employees Credit Union investigator informed detectives that Sylvia Bass of Everett had reported fraudulent credit and debit accounts had been opened in her name in July, resulting in a loss of $30,000, according to Det. Jamie French’s probable cause report of Dec. 29, 2016.

French then sent a surveillance photo of Devlin he obtained through the credit union to fellow detectives and patrol officers, according to court documents.

Everett police initially arrested and released Devlin on Aug. 10 after a patrol spotted her in a passing vehicle. The officer stopped Devlin and determined she was driving a vehicle registered to Marion R. Pyles, 72, of Mukilteo. Pyles had recently been the victim of identity theft at the hands of Devlin and James Pyles, according to court documents.

In a search, officers found Devlin in possession of 13 digital memory cards and two cell phones, and released her due to the time it would take to analyze the evidence, according to court documents.

Among other things, further investigation revealed Devlin had used a debit card she had opened in Bass’ name to rent a house in the 9100 block of 49th Ave. W. in Mukilteo that belongs to Pyles, according to court documents.

As the investigation continues, detectives have recommended 22 counts of first-degree identify theft, 24 counts of second-degree identity theft and 18 counts of forgery to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.

“She has crossed jurisdictional lines and has had a wide effect on the public,” Cox said. “At this point, I have the case file and know I have probable cause for the recommended charges.”

Mukilteo police have identified Devlin as a suspect in five cases and have determined probable cause in three, said Myron Travis, the department’s public information officer. As a result, Mukilteo police have recommended charges including second-degree identity theft, second-degree theft and unlawful possession of a payment instrument, he said.

Last year, Snohomish County joined King and Pierce counties in the Greater Puget Sound Financial Fraud and Identity Theft Task Force, which investigates regional, multi-jurisdictional fraud cases. At that time, Cox was assigned to handle such cases in Snohomish County.

“A lot of people don’t realize they are victims of identity theft until it’s too late,” she said. “A lot of the time, these people steal mail and use that information. There is a lot of personal information in your mail. It gets recycled, and profiles are created in notebooks. When police find these people, they often find profiles of victimized people.”

Cox recommends keeping a close eye on bank account activity as well as mailboxes.

“If you notice anything funny going on in your bank account or you were expecting a bank card or checks to arrive in the mail and they didn’t, contact police,” she said.

She also recommends those who suspect foul play visit www.identitytheft.gov for more information and to register as a victim.

“Once you’re registered, it can help you protect yourself from further victimization,” she said.

Travis said he recommends that when making an online transaction, be sure the website is securely encrypted, which is denoted in website addresses with the prefix “https” rather than simply “http.”

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