State alleges Renton man used access to confidential state databases to commit identity theft against seniors, people with disabilities and non-profits
SEATTLE – May 29, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — The Attorney General’s Office filed charges late yesterday against a former Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) employee for allegedly using his access to confidential state databases to commit identity theft and steal more than $150,000 in unclaimed property through the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) ClaimYourCash.org website.
The state charged Timothy Darrell Fultz with:
Computer Trespass in the First Degree;
Eight counts of Theft in the First Degree;
Three counts of Theft in the Second Degree; and
16 counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree.
The state also charged Fultz with one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree for possessing a firearm after being prohibited from possessing firearms in connection with an out-of-state felony burglary conviction in 1989.
The Attorney General’s Office filed the charges in King County Superior Court, after receiving authority from prosecutors from King and Thurston Counties. Fultz is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. on June 11.
The Attorney General’s Office Criminal Justice Division investigated the case in conjunction with the Washington State Patrol, DOR and DSHS after the DOR Unclaimed Property Division discovered the fraud.
“Violating the public’s trust is unacceptable and does a disservice to our state employees who work hard every day to help the people of Washington,” said Ferguson. “By working together with our state agency partners, we are bringing charges today to seek justice and restore public confidence.”
The DOR’s Unclaimed Property Division manages unclaimed property, including uncashed dividend checks, abandoned bank accounts and unclaimed inheritances. When an individual visits the DOR “ClaimYourCash.org” website, they may enter their name or business and learn if they have any funds or unclaimed property available.
To pursue a claim, the individual must create an account and provide the required documentation to prove the claim.
Access to confidential databases
Fultz was employed by DSHS from June 2004 to November 2013. At the time he is alleged to have made the false claims, Fultz was a benefit program consultant in the Department’s Economic Services Administration. His job duties included assisting individuals in obtaining food assistance benefits while they were involved in job training or educational programs.
DSHS granted Fultz access to multiple sensitive and confidential databases which limit access only to information needed to perform his job duties. Prior to granting access, DSHS required Fultz to sign a confidentiality pledge and an internet access agreement form. Among other things, the agreement forbids employees from using state resources for illegal activities.
DSHS requires employees to sign the agreement annually and clearly outlines the ramifications for failing to comply with the terms of the agreement, including termination from employment and potential criminal charges. Fultz reviewed DSHS policies and signed these agreements as a part of his employment.
38 log-on identities created
According to the investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, the state alleges Fultz, created 38 log-on identities for the “ClaimYourCash.org” website over two years from September 2011 through October 2013. He accessed the DOR unclaimed property database 680 times to file and check on claims he had submitted. Fultz initially filed a legitimate claim for $75.39 on June 20, 2010. The state alleges he then filed 36 additional fraudulent claims using information he obtained from the state’s confidential databases.
According to Court documents, the state served a search warrant on Fultz’s workplace, residence and vehicle on Nov. 4, 2013.
An investigator with the Washington State Patrol’s High Tech Crime Unit found evidence that Fultz accessed the state Department of Health’s Vital Statistics database and used information he found there to create false claims on the “ClaimYourCash.org” website. The state alleges he also accessed various confidential DSHS databases to find names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, limited English speaking profiles and information on relatives to use in developing false claims.
Among Fultz’s alleged victims were Texas brothers who were to inherit more than $65,000 from their mother’s estate; parents in poor health who were to receive more than $5,000 from their deceased son’s estate; and “Hospice Friends,” a not-for-profit agency serving the terminally ill and their families that was to receive $4,417.17 from an estate. According to court documents, none of these victims were aware they had unclaimed property.
Used aunt, great-aunt and grandmother in ruse
The state’s investigation found Fultz shared bank accounts with his aunt, great-aunt and grandmother and used the women’s names in his false claims without their knowledge.
The state alleges he requested funds be mailed to Post Office boxes he maintained and occasionally had funds mailed to his grandmother’s house, where he frequently checked her mail.
The state alleges he then deposited the money into his personal account or, if the checks were made to one of his relatives, he forged their names and deposited into the joint accounts he shared with them. He later withdrew the funds for his personal use.
Additional details about the state’s case and Fultz’s victims can be found in the state’s Affidavit for Determination of Probable Cause. The state’s affidavit for determination of probable cause consists of allegations that have not yet been proven in a court of law. The state of Washington has the burden to prove any and all of its allegations in court.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
• Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
• Alison Dempsey-Hall, Deputy Communications Director, (206) 641-1335