After an 11 day run from the law, Auburn couple Bernard Ross Hansen and Diane Renee Erdmann were arrested by the FBI on May 10.
Hansen is the former president and CEO of Northwest Territorial Mint (NWTM), a now-bankrupt company dealing in precious metals, Erdmann was the company’s vault manager. Northwest Territorial Mint had offices in Auburn and Federal Way.
Hansen and Erdmann were convicted on dozens of charges stemming from a Ponzi scheme they employed which defrauded the company’s customers of millions of dollars. When they failed to appear in court on April 29, the judge issued a warrant for their arrest.
Prior to being arrested, the couple was last seen on May 1, leaving a hotel in Federal Way.
The FBI caught up with the pair and their Corgi at a motel in Port Hadlock, Washington on the afternoon of May 10, according to a spokesperson for the Seattle FBI.
Hansen and Erdmann had swapped the license plate of their car and used fake names to check into the motel, said the FBI spokesperson.
While NWTM was in operation, Hansen and Erdmann used their customer’s gold or silver bullion to expand the business into other states and pay personal expenses, according to the Department of Justice. Hansen and Erdmann then used the money of new customers to pay off the old ones whom they had stolen from, according to the Department of Justice.
“In total, over 2,500 customers paid for orders, or made bullion sales or exchanges, that were either never fulfilled or never refunded,” the Department of Justice said. “The total loss to these customers was more than $25,000,000.”