INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- You know when you sign up for shopping sites or reward cards that the information you give could possibly be sold to other marketers. But Postal Inspector investigators found a notary was selling client's information to identity thieves.
Consumers trusted her with their personal financial information. But, she betrayed their trust. U.S. Postal Inspector Kenneth Miller 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 sold their social security numbers and personal information to identity thieves.
One victim, who didn't want to be identified said, "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 cards to buy cell phones, laptops, iPads, televisions, and stay at lavish hotels.
Hodge, who became a notary public in 2010 - originally lied to investors. Miller said, "She denied having any involvement and she suggested that this information was stolen from her office."
Eventually, she admitted to passing off information from 16 victims who lost more than $160,000. Hodge could face more than 20 years in prison for her role in this case.
Postal inspectors have this advice: always check your credit report.
You can check your credit report for free---and you should space it out so you get it checked once every four months. 2 Wants to Know can help you. We've set up an email reminder on the right side of our page. Just sign up and we'll send you three reminder emails throughout the year. It's easy and it's free.
US Postal Inspectors/WFMY News 2