LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Identity theft can happen to anyone. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that nine million Americans become victims of this crime every year.
An East Texas woman, Brandy Johnson, pled guilty to felony theft, and faced her victims in an Angelina County courtroom Wednesday.
After the plea, Angelina County Judge Paul White still had to decide one aspect of the her punishment. How much should she pay back to her victims?
"I am actually testifying against a woman accused of stealing personal information from me," said Allison Landry, a victim and former KTRE producer.
Restitution would be determined after victims testified. Landry regularly checks her bank account online. A couple of years ago, a five hundred dollar charge caught her eye.
"It was a large amount that I didn't approve or request coming out of my bank account," said Landry.
She called her bank, filed a fraudulent charge report and demanded to know where the charge came from. Her bank concluded it came from a Lufkin car title company. James Cockrum was the area manager at the time.
"I was concerned something was going wrong. Didn't expect it to be this," said Cockrum.
An internal investigation led to the defendant, Brandy Johnson.
Johnson used to be the manager of this Texas Car Title Loan company. Even though, it was against the rules, she used her status to take out fraudulent loans for her very own family members.
Landry says she never, applied for a loan with company, so how was Johnson able to get a hold of her personal information?
"She may have accessed my personal information because she moved into my residence after I lived there," said Landry.
Now, she wants others to know, if you move you should immediately change your mailing address. And keep your personal information hidden.
After hearing all of the testimony, Judge White ordered Johnson to pay the title loan company $11,650.00 in restitution.
She will not face jail-time, unless her plea agreement is unsatisfied.