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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 01, 2005
McKenna Names Attorneys to Fight High-Tech Fraud and Identity Theft


SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced the hiring of two attorneys to fight high-tech fraud, identity theft and other scams targeting consumers.

Katherine Tassi and Shannon Smith will join the Consumer Protection Division in Seattle starting Aug. 16. Both have worked for the Attorney General’s Office in other capacities.

“Washington ranked 8th in the nation last year for identity theft,” McKenna said. “Internet scams such as a ‘phishing’ and spyware are growing at a phenomenal rate. One recent survey showed that 43 percents of adults in the United States have received a phishing contact, and 5 percent of those unknowingly gave up personal information to cons.”

“Identity thieves can also get your personal information through low-tech means, including stealing mail or calling you at home, pretending to be from a bank or credit card company. Seniors are common targets of these ploys,” he said.

“Katherine Tassi and Shannon Smith together bring substantial litigation experience, an impressive skill set and a proven ability to learn complex systems fast,” McKenna said. “They will be a terrific asset in our efforts to crack down on consumer fraud including high-tech scams and identity theft.”

Funding for the new positions comes from $1.6 million in additional support for the Consumer Protection Division approved by the Legislature. McKenna sought the additional funds, which will also pay for a forensic investigator, to address the dramatic rise in these crimes.

Smith joined the Attorney General’s Office in 1989. She is a senior lawyer in the Utilities and Transportation Division and has argued cases before the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Smith previously worked in the agency’s Solicitor General and Licensing and Employment Security divisions. Prior to that, she worked for the Oregon Department of Justice.

She earned a law degree from J.D. Willamette University and a bachelor of arts in political science from Washington State University.

Tassi first came to the Attorney General’s Office as a law clerk in the High-Tech Fraud Unit. After receiving her law degree from the University of Washington, she returned to the office in 2002 as an assistant attorney general, providing legal representation to the Department of Social and Health Services.

Tassi’s legal experience also includes positions with The Defender Association in Seattle, Venture Law Group in Kirkland, and Perkins Coie in Bellevue.

In addition to her law degree, she earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Washington, a master of fine arts from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor of arts in English from Columbia University.

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For more information contact:

Kristin Alexander, Consumer Protection Public Information Officer, at (206) 464-6432 or via e-mail at KristinA1@atg.wa.gov.

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