Arrests made in multi-county fraud case; authorities investigati - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Arrests made in multi-county fraud case; authorities investigating

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ELLENSBURG, WA - Washington and Oregon Police Departments are investigating an extensive fraud case that stretches across multiple counties in our region. The crimes have caused a lot of issues close to home.

According to Ellensburg Police Captain, Dan Hansberry, it all started back on September 6th when an Ellensburg resident reported a case of identity theft. Officers dug further into the case, and now they're looking at a string of fraudulent transactions all over Washington and Oregon. So far, the list includes Ellensburg, Pasco, La Grande, and Ontario. 

The issues began when Christopher Kittler of Cle Elum and Hifa Smith of Pasco stole the personal information of people with good credit histories. They then used high-tech printing eqipment to re-create the licenses of those people, with their own faces on them.

The two opened credit accounts in the victims' names, and from there they started buying things all over the Pacific Northwest...really expensive things, for that matter.

They bought two brand new cars, one being a $70,000 Dodge Charger Hellcat from a dealership in La Grande.

The other, a new Toyota Highlander from a dealership in Ontario.

When Ellensburg and Pasco Police caught up with Kittler and Smith at a hotel near Road 68, they found the printing equipment, licenses, cars, and some methamphetamine.

Both are now facing an extensive number of charges, including fraud, theft, and identity theft. Officers say they are expecting more people to come forward as victims.

So, buyers, officers are urging you to consistently check your credit scores and report anything out of the ordinary; and sellers, they're urging you to always triple check before processing a transaction.

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