Whidbey man accused in $1-million fraud scheme

A man running an online business out of a Coupeville home defrauded more than $1 million from customers who thought they were buying flat-screen TVs, court documents say.

The suspect, Roman Y. Ogourtsov, was formerly “senior sales executive” in an electronics company that was sued by the state Attorney General’s Office for taking money from customers but failing to deliver any products, according to the police report.

Prosecutors charged Ogourtsov, 35, in Island County Superior Court with one count of theft in the first degree and 13 counts of money laundering.

The theft count was charged with special allegations that could increase the sentence. The prosecutor alleges that Ogourtsov committed a major economic offense or series of offenses; the offense involved multiple victims; the offense involved a high degree of sophistication or planning over a lengthy period; and that he used his position of trust to facilitate the crime.

Special allegations were also filed with four counts of money laundering since the number of charges against Ogourtsov essentially maxed out the sentence range and those charges would go unpunished.

Lt. Mike Hawley of the Island County Sheriff’s Office started investigating the case in 2013 after a man in California complained he was ripped off by a company operating out of Coupeville.

The man said he ordered a plasma TV for nearly $5,000 from the website, toplinetvs.com, the prior month. He immediately got a phone call from a sales manager — allegedly Ogourtsov — who asked him to instead wire the funds, which the man eventually did.

The TV never came. The customer called the sales manager numerous times but each time was assured that the TV would soon ship, the report alleges. The man called the sheriff’s office after reading on the website that the company’s office was located in Coupeville.

Hawley eventually was able to contact Ogourtsov at the house. Ogourtsov claimed his business was legitimate and he sold about 30 TVs a day over the Internet.

Hawley found that Ogourtsov was the suspect in three fraud cases in Mukilteo involving high-end TVs. In those cases the “sales manager” also convinced customers to wire money, but TVs never arrived, the report states.

Hawley contacted the state Attorney General’s Office. An investigator in the Consumer Protection Division had compiled a list of more than 100 complaints against Ogourtsov and his websites. The AG pressured Ogourtsov to refund the money but less than 19 percent was returned, the report states.

Investigators served a search warrant on Ogourtsov’s home in 2014 and recovered two laptops. The investigator found a long list of invoices from customers, as well as information about four bank accounts used to receive checks and wire transfers, the report states.

Hawley’s report alleges Ogourtsov received more than $1 million from 385 customers from September of 2012 to January of 2014.

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