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June 20, 2009

Another victim's story about identity theft

Claire Johnson with the Billings Gazette reports on another story about an identity theft victim's ordeal. Same story, same frustration, just a different name. Will this crime ever be stopped?

Here's the article:

"Carl Peterson thought he was over being angry at Vicki Lynn Heater for using his personal information to open credit cards and steal his money. He wasn't.

'I used to have hair. Then I got bald in this crap,' Peterson, a Bearcreek carpenter, told a federal judge Thursday. He testified during Heater's sentencing for credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

'It was scary. It was terrifying. It was sleepless nights. It was expensive. It almost ruined my relationship with my girlfriend. We had to borrow money,' Peterson said. 'It has just been an ordeal, just an ordeal. It's not going to end for a long damn time.'

Peterson met Heater through volunteering at the Beartooth Nature Center in Red Lodge. A friend told him she was a bookkeeper and could use more work. Peterson thought she was 'a nice lady' and offered her part-time work to manage the books for his construction business.

... Heater, 54, of Red Lodge, pleaded guilty in February to two counts. A bank fraud count was dismissed. Heater admitted that she wrote checks to herself from Peterson's personal and business accounts and used his credit card to make personal purchases paid for by his accounts.

Heater also applied for credit cards in Peterson's name and used them for personal expenses, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Archer. The fraud ran from March 2006 until October 2007.

Heater bought prescription drugs from an online drug supplier with a server in Malaysia, items from Victoria's Secret, cigarettes online and paid her power bill with Peterson's money. The intended loss was about $59,000.

Cebull sentenced Heater to 32 months in prison, which included eight months for the fraud and a mandatory consecutive two years for the identity theft. She faced up to a year on the fraud count under the guidelines. Cebull said he will determine restitution after getting more information."

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