The owner of Northern Enterprises Permit and Boat Brokerage was taken into custody Wednesday night on a theft charge at her home in Homer.
Deborah Moore, 40, was arrested by Alaska State Troopers on one count of first-degree theft. She is a suspect in the disappearance of more than $289,000.
The money was being handled by her brokerage, which arranges for the sale of boats, fishing permits and individual fishing quotas.
It is believed that Moore either scammed a number of people out of their money or lost their money in an investment scam.
According to court records, one victim claimed to have given Moore $10,000 to buy a fishing permit. He transferred the money from his account to Moore's account. After a time, he spoke to Moore, who said that the permit he wanted was off the market, but there was another permit for sale.
The victim told Moore to keep the money to purchase this permit.
Later, when he spoke to Moore again, she stated that she could not get the second permit, either. She also told the victim that she no longer had the money, due to an accounting error. She told him that she would not be able to get the money if she was in jail.
Another victim reported to Trooper Jim Hibpshman giving Moore $10,000 to buy fishing IFQs. She had not, to date, either provided the IFQs or returned the money.
Troopers also were contacted by a Homer resident who sold $158,000 worth of halibut quota share through Moore's brokerage. He said he did not receive any of it.
He said his quota share was sold legitimately to another buyer and he does not know what to do about his loss.
In meetings with FBI investigators, Moore and her lawyers said the money was lost on a Nigerian scam that they want the bureau to investigate.
"It is not known at this time just how much money was lost or how it was lost," said Lt. Tom Bowman of the Alaska State Troopers. "But the DA felt there was enough probable cause to take it to court."
Moore went to court on Thursday to plead not guilty. Her bail was set at $100,000, but she must also have a court-approved, third-party custodian before she can be released.
So far, at least nine people have come forward claiming to have been Moore's victims.
An investigation is continuing.
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