Troubleshooter Consumer Alert: Man steals identities with fake veteran charities
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There are more than 40,000 charities listed as serving veterans and active duty military in the United States but not all of them were legitimate.
Ed Campbell responded to what he thought was a charity for disabled veterans. Instead, it was a con to gain access to his personal information.
“The charity was a complete front," said Campbell.
The hoax was perpetrated by James Bartlett. He would use the charity letter to gain access to people's personal information.
Justin Page, a US postal inspector said, “The suspect would send out solicitations for veteran's disability. People would respond to that using a donation, a check obviously would have their address information and he was easily able to obtain that.”
Postal inspectors learned that was just the first step in Bartlett's mail fraud scheme. He also sent a change of address request with the post office while the Campbells were out of state. The couple suspected something was amiss when they stopped getting most mail so they opened a post office box but it was too late.
Campbell said, “By that time, he'd already gotten some of our financial documents. From that was able to fill out change of address requests on some of those accounts."
When Bartlett got credit card information he would use it to open fraudulent accounts. The Campbells were one of almost a hundred victims. In total, Bartlett stole more than a $100,000 from the families.
If people are older and living on fixed income or social security and lose what savings they have, it can be disastrous. Make sure people are getting credit reports yearly if not bi-annually, it's important to shred any documents that may contain personal information.
Police charged Bartlett with 20 counts of bank fraud and 2 counts of mail fraud. A judge sentenced him 13 years in prison and ordered him to pay 10,000 in restitution.
The government set up a website to give free annual credit reports from all three credit bureaus. CLICK HERE FOR THE WEBSITE.