Kent man charged with stealing $8,500 cash from woman he met online

A 24-year-old Kent man allegedly set up a Bellevue woman he met through an online dating service to steal $8,500 in cash from her for a trip to Las Vegas and a move to Florida.

King County prosecutors charged Efrem Addisu Menegesha on Dec. 31 with first-degree theft for reportedly taking $8,500 from the woman in September after the two had dated throughout the summer and planned to move to Florida, according to charging papers.

Menegesha, who reportedly moved to Florida and has not been arrested, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 14 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. If he doesn't appear at the hearing, a judge will issue a warrant for his arrest, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

The woman told Bellevue Police she met a man named Josh on the dating website They saw each other about every other day last summer. Near the end of summer, he told her he was going to sell his car and use the proceeds for a trip to Las Vegas and then move back to Florida.

They discussed going together and on Sept. 6 the woman said she withdrew all of her savings and gave notice to her employer. The evening of Sept. 6 Menegesha reportedly came to the woman's apartment for dinner and took the cash out of her purse when she visited with her female roommate outside. Menegesha then left the apartment and hasn't been seen by the woman since.

After a detective left a voice mail for Menegesha, he later phoned the woman and said he would pay her back but the woman has not received any money. Attempts by the woman and police to reach Menegesha by phone were unsuccessful and he eventually had the phone shut off.

The woman said she never knew the man's last name and they usually met at her house. She knew he lived in Kent and worked out at 24 Hour Fitness in Kent.

She had told the man she would pay her way to Florida and Las Vegas. She sent a text message to him Sept. 6 that she had withdrawn the money from her bank account. She told police she was embarrassed about the incident and that she fell for the man.

The woman told police she had a Styrofoam cup that the man had touched at their dinner on Sept. 6. Police ran the cup for prints and got a print that matched Menegesha. Kent Police had arrested the man in 2011 after a traffic violation for possession of a marijuana pipe.

Detectives showed the woman a photo of the man from his Washington driver's license and the woman identified him as the man she dated named Josh.

"That's the guy I fell in love with," she told detectives after looking at a set of photos of six men, including Menegesha.


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