Auburn couple sentenced to prison after fraud conviction, 11-day manhunt | #phishing | #scams

The couple defrauded approximately 3,000 of their customers while running a bullion business, Northwest Territorial Mint.

AUBURN, Wash. — An Auburn couple that defrauded thousands of people of more than $30 million were sentenced to prison on Monday.

Bernard Ross Hansen was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Diane Renee Erdman received 5 years. A judge ordered them both to pay more than $30 million in restitution. 

Hansen, the former president and CEO of Northwest Territorial Mint, was convicted of 14 federal felonies, including multiple counts of wire fraud and mail fraud. 

Erdmann was convicted of 13 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud.

Prosecutors increased sentencing recommendations for Hansen and Erdmann to reflect an 11-day manhunt after they failed to appear at their original sentencing hearing. 

When the couple was arrested in Port Hadlock on the Olympic Peninsula at the end of the search, they had three loaded guns in their vehicle, according to information from the court. 

“Ms. Erdmann and Mr. Hansen acquired a new vehicle, armed themselves with three loaded guns, and evaded supervision. Ms. Erdmann’s conduct shows a lack of respect for the court and the law enforcement authorities that she knew would attempt to find her,” prosecutors wrote. “Recent events have shown that Mr. Hansen also presents a danger of violence. When he was apprehended by law enforcement in Port Hadlock, he was traveling with three loaded firearms in reaching distance of the front seat of his vehicle.”

The couple defrauded approximately 3,000 of their customers while running a bullion business, Northwest Territorial Mint, with offices in Auburn and Federal Way. 

The two defrauded customers in a variety of ways, including using customer money to expand the business and pay for personal expenses, according to information from U.S. District Court in Seattle. New customer money was used to pay off older customers. More than 2,500 paid for orders or made bullion sales or exchanges that were either never fulfilled or never refunded, resulting in a total loss of more than $25 million. 

Additionally, according to the court, all or part of stored bullion for more than 50 customers was missing when the business’s vaults were inventoried. The mission bullion was worth more than $4.9 million.

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