Greene County woman: I’m an ID theft victim, but no one will help me

Updated: 10/04/2014 11:46 PM
Created: 10/04/2014 11:34 PM

By: Steve Flamisch

ATHENS – A blind woman’s trusted friend and helper allegedly stole her personal information and cleaned out her bank account, the woman told NewsChannel 13.

“Paula,” who requested that we conceal her identity, said the bank did not notify her that large sums of money were being withdrawn between September 2012 and February 2013.

“In total, he took $200,000,” she said. “I only found out five months later when I went to make a deposit, and found out that my savings account was empty.”

The man used her information to open a joint online trading account and a joint checking account without her knowledge, Paula said. Some transactions totaled thousands of dollars.

“He went shopping for clothing at Bergdorf-Goodman,” she said. “He went on a trip to Vancouver. He bought a BMW. He bought a car for his friend.”

One bank eventually refunded sixty days of purchases, totaling about $40,000, Paula said. Another bank refunded nothing, believing that she and the man had a legitimate joint loan, she said.

And Paula said the authorities told her they could not file charges against the man because it was his word against hers. “He said that I gave him the money,” she said.

Paula said she has reached out to numerous government agencies, with no luck. One state lawmaker responded with a letter, outlining proposed identity theft legislation.

NewsChannel 13 was not able to reach spokespeople at Paula’s banks or the investigating police agency. The man she accuses of stealing her identity did not return a phone call.

In the end, Paula said people should check their bank statement every month – and be careful about the friends they keep. “I don’t think you can trust anybody,” she said.

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