Identity Theft Victim Speaks Out - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/05/04

Identity Theft Victim Speaks Out

Identity theft is the fastest growing white collar crime in the country. It can be simply defined as the unauthorized access of your personal information for fradulent purposes.

If you think there's no way you could be a victim, think again. A Biloxi woman almost learned that lesson the hard way.

When Barbara Blanchard opened her hair salon in Gulfport some nine months ago, it was the fulfillment of a life long dream. But, that dream could have turned into a nightmare.

One day, while looking at her April bank statement, she saw something that didn't make sense. The charge was for $180 to a company she had never heard of before.

She made some phone calls and learned a con artist in California was behind the scheme. His target was cosmetologists in Mississippi. He had spent months speaking by phone with some of the women in the state cosmetology office gaining their trust.

"He was able to convince them he was on the up and up, he was legitimate. He had a company name for them, even offered them jobs working for him."

The con artist told the women he was in the business of providing health care for cosmetologists.. He then proceeded to charge 147 cosmetologists across the state $180 each.

Many probably paid, without asking questions, but not Barbara. To her relief, she learned the feds were already on to the guy, and he is now sitting in a California prison.

Barbara joins a growing list of people who have victims of identity theft, and she knows, it could happen again.

by Jeff Lawson

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