When he opened a Portland restaurant in February, the manager found the night supervisor tied up in a back office screaming, “We were robbed!” The 20-year-old woman’s hands were bound with duct tape and her pants soaked with urine, The Oregonian reports. She said she had been robbed at knifepoint as she was closing up. Five months later, a bleeding woman ran into a Wells Fargo bank branch in Portland screaming, “I’ve just been robbed!” The 21-year-old woman told officers a man stabbed her and stole the $6,000 she was trying to deposit for the McDonald’s restaurant she managed.
Two robberies — each involving bold, knife-wielding attackers –had police scrambling to interview witnesses, search for fingerprints, photograph the scenes, and cope with TV cameras. After weeks of investigation, each victim’s story started to crumble. Police now say they weren’t dealing with robberies at all, but elaborate hoaxes by crafty employees to cover up their own embezzlements. Robbery detectives are encountering more false reports this year, a troubling trend considering the effort it takes to sort them out. For a while, detectives joked they were the “internal theft unit.” “As I’d tell people” said Det. Brent Christensen, “it seemed too Hollywood.”