Stolen mail used in several identity thefts
LOVE COUNTY, Okla. (KXII) -- Two Love County men appeared in court Monday afternoon, accused of stealing people's mail to commit identity theft.
"Its a huge amount of money. It's an attack literally on your livelihood," Identity theft victim Kathy Powell said. "Its very violating."
Powell said she first noticed something was wrong after she got several phone calls and mailers, congratulating her and her husband on their new credit lines -- credit lines they didn't open to the total tune of $74,000.
"Once someone has your information, it takes them 45 seconds to wreck your credit and wreck your life," Powell said. "It takes you months, I'm guessing, to get out of it. I mean, I'm still wading through and spending money trying to clean this up."
She immediately went to the sheriff's office, where she realized she wasn't alone.
Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham says over the last month they've gotten several reports just like hers. with stolen credit applications from mailboxes and other records used to steal money from at least seven victims, but there could be more.
"That's what the credit limits were on those applications. 20,000 here, 30,000 there, but it all totaled upwards of $300,000." Grisham said.
Their investigation led them to Robert Bond and Lane Miller's apartments, where they found evidence linking them to the identity thefts- including items the two had fraudulently bought.
Powell says she's known Miller since he was a boy, and information Miller put on the applications made her suspect him, and give his name to police.
"They were always welcome in my home, welcome to speak candidly. Came for meals, came for coffee," Powell said. "And what hurts me as much as that, is some of the other victims in this case are elderly people, and there's no one lower on this earth than someone that would pick on an elderly person."
Grisham says to protect yourself, monitor your credit, and keep your personal information secure.
"Get your mail early, as quick as possible, and then shred any documents that you would normally just throw away in the trash," Grisham said. "because people are digging through trash also. Just shred everything."
Grisham said they are meeting with the F.B.I later this week to discuss possible federal mail theft charges, and charges may be coming out of Texas where the stolen credit was used.