Convicted Con-Artist Gives Advice on Protecting Your Information - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Convicted Con-Artist Gives Advice on Protecting Your Information

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We often hear from people who have been victimized by con-artists, But rarely do we hear from the con-artists themselves.

Now, a woman who stole from hundreds of people is speaking out, and her advice could help protect you from becoming the victim of a scam.

"I had a problem with drugs and as my addiction grew as my money and necessity grew. I heard about people stealing mail and making counterfeit checks," said Mary, creator of counterfeit checks.

Mary says with stolen account information, she would print up fake checks and ID cards to match--and getting the information was easy.

"Through stealing mail, through bank dumpsters, through garbage behind car loan places. Places like that may have your information and then throw it away."

Mary says on a slow day, she would cash $500  in counterfeit checks.  On a good day she would cash $2000 in counterfeit checks. In all, 250 victims were scammed out of almost $50,000.

"We said we would get to a certain amount of money and we would stop. But it never seemed we got to that, if we got there, we needed more. It's an illusion," Mary said.

Mary and her husband were arrested. She spent more than two years behind bars,
and now says she wants to make amends.

"I want to tell you - that is the reason I wanted to do this - is because it was so easy."

And the road ahead will not be easy for her victims.

"They were upset by the monetary loss but moreover, about their good name being trashed. It takes a significant amount of time and energy to get your name cleared," said David Birch, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Mary has some important advice to help protect you from falling victim to identity thieves:

"If you're going to be out of town, don't let your mail pile up."

"If you use a bank, make sure they shred your information. Any business that is going to take your personal information ask them what are you going to dispose my information?"

Mary says her drug addiction made her do desperate things and she apologizes to the victims of her crimes.

"I used this in a letter to my judge that remorse is defined as a deep, moral, anguish and regret and that is an understatement of how I feel."

Investigators say everyone should follow Mary's advice and take every precaution possible to keep their personal financial information secure.
 
Shred personal documents and check bank and credit statements for anything suspicious.

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