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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Identity Theft Alert

CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- She had a title that implied she could be trusted but it turns out that wasn't the case.

This left people to clean up the mess left behind by an identity thief.  This is a story of how many people trusted a woman with their personal information but she betrayed that trust.

Kenneth Miller, US Postal Inspector, said, "They would give $20 for individuals that had a credit score between 500-600.  Then it would go up from there.  If they had a better credit score, she would require additional money for that."

"She" is Melissa Hodge, a notary public who worked with consumers on refinancing transactions.  Instead of helping people financially, Hodge was selling their social security numbers and personal information to identity thieves.

Voice of Fraud Victim tells us, "I apologize, I am very, very distraught at this point. I have been notified from our bank somebody, this person, has been in our bank account, they have almost drained our checking. They have almost drained everything."

Miller said, "They would use the information they got from the notary to identify what they would consider attractive accounts."

Those con-men would then use the information to open credit card accounts.

"They used the credit cards to purchase cell phones, laptops, iPads, televisions, and stay at lavish hotels," Miller said.
Hodge, who became a notary public in 2010, originally lied to investors.  She denied having any involvement and suggested that the information was stolen from her office.  Eventually, she admitted to passing off information from 16 victims who lost more than 160,00 dollars.

Postal Inspectors have this advice: "Always check your credit report, we recommend you check it at least once a year," Miller said.

Melissa Hodge can now face more than 20 years in prison for her role in this case.




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