Six massage therapists face charges of fraud after Bellevue police say that they gave false information on applications to obtain massage therapist practitioner licenses.
Six therapists to date have been arrested, though the investigation continues and more arrests could be forthcoming, said Bellevue police spokeswoman Office Carla Iafrate. The locations of the massage parlors involved were not immediately available.
According to a press release from the Bellevue Police Department, an investigation identified the therapists has having used suspected counterfeit Chinese school and licensing credentials when applying to the Washington State Department of Health for a license to practice massage therapy.
The investigation began last September when the police department's vice division received information about the suspected fraudulent licenses from the Department of Health and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, according to a press release.
The investigations showed that the individuals involved were unable to receive the listed training in China during the times listed on the applications, according to the Bellevue Police Department. The applicants were either not in China during that time period stated, or they were not there long enough to receive the required number of hours of specialized training, according to the press release.
While the Department of Health declined to release information specifically to this case, spokesman Donn Moyer said that massage therapy license fraud was "uncommon."
"Most people are doing things by the rules," he said. "It's unusual to have half a dozen of them all at once."
The U.S. Immigration and Customs and Border Protection provided Mandarin translators during the arrests, but and it appears that so far there were no federal laws broken, said spokesman Andrew S. Munoz.
Bellevue Police will continue to investigate further claims of massage license fraudand is committed to eliminating all unlicensed massage practices in Bellevue, according to its press release.
Bellevue Patch will update this story with more information as we receive it.