By Stefanie Donahue
Birch Bay resident and caregiver Kimberly Stavig, 54, is accused of identity fraud and theft of more than $100K from a 78-year-old Blaine woman she had been caring for since 2016.
Stavig was arrested at her home in Birch Bay on January 25 and was booked into Whatcom County Jail on charges of first and second degree identity theft and first degree theft. On January 26, she was released on her own recognizance and issued a no contact order.
According to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), the victim’s financial advisor became concerned last July, after four money trades totaling $45,000 had been transferred from the woman’s investment account into her regular banking account. Unable to contact the client by phone, the advisor cancelled another $25,000 transfer and shortly after received a call from a female who identified herself as his client. According to WCSO, the victim has a distinctive voice that the advisor knows very well and he knew the woman on the phone was not the account owner.
The advisor contacted a WCSO detective and reported that $136,000 had been transferred out of the victim’s investment account in 2017. The advisor, the WCSO detective, an investigator from Adult Protective Services and the victim met to discuss the transfers. The victim explained she had not made any recent transfers and that Stavig likely had access to her checks and debit card, according to WCSO.
A subsequent investigation led to the discovery of several large withdrawals from the victim’s regular bank account in July 2017, none of which the victim recalled making. A subpoena was served for the bank records, which revealed that seven transactions were made at a Bellingham Walmart totaling $600-$2,500 between July 19 and August 10, 2017. According to the WCSO, the victim only recalled visiting the Bellingham Walmart on two occasions.
Records of all the transactions were located by the Walmart loss prevention department and video recordings showed Stavig using the victim’s debit card to make money transfers through Money Gram and Ria Financial.
Hundreds of additional ATM withdrawals and large dollar transactions using the victim’s debit card were also identified by the investigators – including charges made at Safeway, Fred Meyer, Samuels Furniture, Kucumber Skin Lounge, City Mac, Apple online and Lowes – totaling $106,619.
In an email, WCSO undersheriff Jeff Parks said, “The $106,000 was taken via charges, online purchases and ATM transactions, and I am sure that is only a portion of what was taken in total.”