Ferry scam investigation

(Editor's Note: Since publishing this story Washington State Ferries released the following statement. Beginning Sunday, June 15, customers must provide their Wave2Go ticket or a copy of their ticket for travel.  Ticket Sellers will no longer enter the 18 digit ticket number for customers who do not have their ticket in-hand at the time of travel.  Customers are reminded to plan ahead and have their ticket ready for scanning upon arrival at the ticket booth.)

Orcas Islander Peter Bohr purchased a five-ride ferry pass this spring and after using it only once, he was surprised when the ferry worker at the Anacortes terminal said he had zero uses left.

Now Bohr is convinced that “thieves have breached the Washington State Ferries’ computer ticket system and are stealing unused rides.”

Bohr wrote a detailed letter to Islands’ Sounder staff detailing his concern over the situation and stating that his pass and purchase receipt had never been out of his possession, therefore no one could have copied his information and that someone must be infiltrating the ticket system.

According to Undersheriff Bruce Distler, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is working with Washington State Ferries to investigate the ferry ticket fraud.

“We will work with the ferry to bring the person  or persons responsible to justice,” said Distler.

He added that at this point there is no evidence that someone is going into the ferry system and stealing tickets. He did say the issue seems to be isolated to the Anacortes ferry terminal.

Marta Coursey, WSF director of communications, said “We can say with certainty that WSF’s credit card and IT systems have not been breached.”

Coursey added that she has passed on multiple complaints to the sheriff. She would not comment on how many complaints she had recieved.

The sheriff’s office warns ferry riders to safeguard their ferry passes. Due to the fact that only the pass numbers are necessary to use the tickets, Distler says people should not have their passes visible at any time.

Someone could easily take a photo with an iPhone and have your ticket information. For Bohr, the incident has left him not only feeling robbed by an unknown person, but by the Washington State Ferries. He claims that after speaking with a ferry revenue control agent he was told he would not be reimbursed for the three “stolen” rides that he maintains cost a total of $83.34.

He is currently working with WSF to possibly have his ticket refunded, but has yet to see the funds.

Coursey said that WSF has no way of verifying if tickets are stolen “so we are unable to provide refunds.”

The Sounder will continue to report on this ongoing investigation.


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