Spokane man under investigation for extortion of refugee

Spokane man under investigation for extortion of refugee

A Spokane man who works with refugees is under investigation for extortion, as a woman he helped now says he was recording video in her bathroom without her knowledge, then threatening to use the videos and pictures against her.

The man under investigation has not yet been charged with a crime, but court documents say he works with an organization called Refugee Connections.

He helped a woman and her mother from Iraq, getting them green cards, setting them up with housing and securing cell phones and internet service for them. He also took the mother to doctor’s appointments and translated for her.

According to a search warrant application filed this week, the women say he “kept them isolated from the rest of the Arabic community and he told them others were not to be trusted.”

The women say he told them he worked for the FBI and showed them a badge with the words “FBI” and “interpreter” written on them. According to court records, he told one of the women “he would go with the FBI to people who would ‘make problems’ for them and they would arrest and deport them.” One of the women says he brought a gun to their house and told them he was on a “mission from the FBI.”

The younger woman said he pursued her romantically for months, but that she told him several times she was not interested.

In an application for a search warrant filed by Spokane Police this week, the woman said he gave her device and said it was a phone charger and that she was to put it in her bathroom. After awhile, she noticed a strange circle on the device. Friends told her it was a camera and she located a memory card inside. According to the search warrant, “[She] now believes that every time he came to the apartment and used the bathroom, he was changing memory cards.”

She confronted him about it and, according to her, “[He] admitted it was a camera and he had her put the camera in her bathroom.. he told her he had pictures of her in the bathroom both clothed and naked.” He wanted the camera back; she refused. According to court documents, “He told her it was his property and it would be considered theft if she kept it… he told her she would go to jail if she did not return it to him.”

According to court documents, “[He] was threatening to expose videos of her if she didn’t get together with him… In her culture, she was not supposed to be wearing clothes like that and she was not supposed to be calling boys. [She said he] also was using their cultural values to make her do what he wished.”

She said [he] has been calling, texting and emailing her saying he loves her and wants to marry her, threatening to expose the videos and pictures. She said he eventually sent some video to her sister in Turkey.

In February, she believed he was following her and reported it to police. On the officer’s advice, she went to the courthouse to seek a protection order. She said he was waiting for them at the courthouse. She said he approached her mother and said “I will send your daughter out of America if she continues with this and goes through with it.”

Investigating officers obtained phones and access to email accounts, but the woman had deleted most and had reset her phone. Police did not find text messages, but did find an old deactivated cell phone and searched it. They found one video that appeared to be taken in her bathroom and there were identifying features from the video that matched the camera in question.

No criminal charges have been filed at this time. Spokane Police are continuing to investigate.