ID Thief Targets Look-Alike Women, Cops Say

Identity theft has taken on a new face, and it looks a lot like the face of the victims, police said.

A woman has been targeting other women around the Seattle area, and she seems to be picking her victims based on their appearance, choosing women who look like her to make it easier for her to withdraw money from their bank accounts, King County detectives said.

"She's brilliant," said Nicole Bianchi, one of the alleged victims, but she didn't mean that as a compliment. She said she wants the woman she's talking about in jail.

"She has a total of $8,600 she got off me," Bianchi said.

Heather Smelser, another fraud victim, said she lost $6,000 to the woman.

Detectives said they believe both were victims of the same fraud, by the same woman.

"She seemed very nice and shy," Smelser said. She said the woman approached her at a Wallingford bar and asked for directions. At the same time, she pick-pocketed Smelser's wallet.

Detectives said that for all the women who appear to be victims of the clever thief, within 24 hours their bank accounts had been emptied.

"What she did was very calculated," Bianchi said.

King County sheriff's detectives said it appears the woman has been doing it all around the Seattle area. She met one victim at a Capitol Hill coffee shop, another at a Tukwila restaurant and another at a Lynnwood cafe, detectives said. She seems to target women who look like her, so she can use their ID to use their bank and credit cards, police said.

She may have already stolen at least $20,000, police said.

Smelser was not happy that her bank just handed over all that cash without requiring any account numbers. The suspect apparently walked in with the stolen ID and simply asked for the money.

"They handed over a lot of money at one time, which I'm surprised about," Smelser said.

Detectives said the woman has used many local banks, but she seems to favor Washington Mutual.

A spokeswoman for the bank said Washington Mutual had no comment on the case, but she added the bank is working with investigators to help catch the alleged thief.

In the meantime, the woman's alleged victims are left trying to get back on their feet.

"More than anything, I work hard for my money and this person has no regard," Smelser said. "What makes her feel she deserves to take people's money?"

Bianchi said she doesn't understand why there aren't better ways to protect people from such crimes.

"It just all seems kind of odd that in this day and age, and the technology we have that we still seem to be a couple steps behind these people," she said.

ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle contributed to this report.

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