Elderly local woman falls victim to identity theft
- Lee van der Voo
- Lake Oswego Review - News
One person has been arrested and others are suspected in an identity theft case involving an 89-year-old Lake Oswego woman, at least 13 credit accounts and $100,000 in fraudulent charges.
Family members of the victim first reported activity on unauthorized credit accounts to police about a week ago.
The Lake Oswego Review is withholding the name of the victim.
Tom Sand, a family spokesman, said the victim's family became aware of problems when the Macy's fraud department called with concerns about a suspicious purchase.
Surveillance video and related account statements showed an unknown woman making purchases on an account established in the victim's name.
'It was obvious this person was not (her) and these were purchases she would never make,' Sand said.
Lake Oswego Police searched a Tualatin home in connection with the case June 6, recovering several laptops, a 40-inch television and expensive clothing packed into dozens of suitcases, much of it with the tags still attached.
They arrested Ghada Hassan Ibrahim-El Mosalamy, 34, at the scene and continue to search for additional suspects.
Ibrahim-El Mosalamy is being held at the Clackamas County Jail on $250,000 bail. She has been charged with identity theft, forgery and aggravated theft and faces up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
The suspect and victim do not know each other, Sand said.
Don Forman, captain of the Lake Oswego Police, said police are now compiling an inventory of recovered property and tracking receipts and computer files to sort out the case.
They believe the fraud against the elderly victim has been in progress since fall of 2007 and that other victims are likely involved.
'This is truly just the beginning,' Forman said.
The fraud may be related to previous suspicious incidents involving the victim's credit card accounts.
'Last fall somebody from Southwest Portland, in Tualatin or Tigard, was making applications for credit cards in (her name) but he or she wasn't spelling her name quite correctly,' Sand said.
The victim placed a fraud alert on her credit then and was able to avoid any immediate problems. She and her family thought the problem was resolved.
But a recent credit check revealed an ongoing issue: Multiple unknown accounts in her name and multiple inquiries on her credit report.
'I'm assuming there's going to be a way for her not to pay the credit card companies,' said Sand.
'In terms of a lesson learned, I would suggest as we Baby Boomers age and have aging (family) they are easy targets for sophisticated thieves and we should take an active role in monitoring their mail and becoming involved in their affairs if they will let us,' he said.