Consumer Alert: Suspicious packages lead to reveal of identity theft scam
ID theft victim had hired thieves to paint her house years earlier.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but one woman in Chicago discovered her identity had been stolen in a unique scheme that was quite personal.
"I got home one day and I got a package on my front porch from eBay which I did not order," says Jill Carlson, a fraud victim.
Jill thought it was just a mix-up, but the next day, when she found a notice telling her to pick up another package, she got suspicious and spoke to the post office clerk.
"Is there a way to stop packages from coming to my house," says Carlson. "There is something going on."
Turns out, thieves stole her identity, opened an eBay account in her name, and began ordering online with the intent of picking up the packages before she retrieved them.
"Just by chance, they missed two," says Carlson.
Jill discovered the woman who stole her identity, Stacy Wallin, was part of a house painting crew she hired years earlier. Wallin and her crew knew Carlson's schedule, which was how they were able to grab packages from her home without anyone noticing.
"It became more personal at that point and the anger level was intense," says Carlson.
Though Jill didn't lose any money, the damage done to her credit was devastating.
"I did have major problems with my credit report, because all of a sudden you are hit with a late payment," says Carlson. "They stole credit card statements out of my mailbox. They stole credit reports out of my mailbox. It took me probably a year to start rebuilding my credit."
The process is not easy.
"It's amazing how hard it is for you to prove you are the actual person," says Carlson. "It's easier for them to change your records then it is for you to go back and prove that you are who you are."
"Prosecutors, both federal, state, and local and the judicial officers have realized that ID theft is not a victimless crime and it impacts the very fabric of the American economy," says E Woodson, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
Postal inspectors say ID theft is growing at an alarming rate and can happen to anyone.
"Many of these victims cannot afford this and one act of ID theft can impact their lives," says Woodson. "They can't pay for a child's education or they can't get credit."
Postal inspectors also say to order an annual credit and check to see if all of the accounts and addresses are yours and that no one else's name is your account.
As for Stacy Walin, she was sentenced to more than three years in prison and she was ordered to pay more than $35,000 in restitution.