Police are looking for a Federal Way business owner accused of defrauding 23 people across the state of nearly $10,000 in welfare funds.
John Comoza, 58, faces 23 counts of identity theft, for which he did not appear to his Dec. 3 arraignment. Court records say he left the state, and there is a bench warrant out for his arrest.
According to charging papers:
The fraud, ranging from $100 to $570 per victim between August and October 2012, was in the form of charges made to EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) accounts. EBT cards are used to distribute Department of Social and Health Services assistance to those in need.
The unauthorized charges were made at John’s Meat and Seafood, which Comoza owns, and totaled $9,468.96.
The first person to report the fraud said she had not had any contact with the business.
The company uses offline transactions to get reimbursement when customers pay with EBT cards, which does not require the user to enter a PIN number.
Tacoma police detective Bert Hayes told KIRO-TV that Comoza took an EBT account number, then used a basic math formula to find other existing accounts without ever seeing the cards.
Hayes declined to describe how Comoza generated the account numbers, to prevent others from using the method.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268