Identity theft crushes Gladwin couple, $30,000 in debt racked up
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
GLADWIN COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -
Identity theft can happen to any of us, without even realizing it. One Mid-Michigan couple's story serves as a warning about a new wave of thieves.
Mary Slusser holds her breath every day on her way to her mailbox.
"It gets to the point that I don't even want to check the mail anymore," Slusser said.
She wonders what nightmare will be delivered next.
"Hopefully, no more to the $30,000," she said.
That is the amount of money that needs to be paid back that Slusser and her long-time boyfriend, Ken Ashley Jr., don't have.
Ashley said they owe the money because he's the victim of an elaborate identify theft. Somehow someone got a hold of Ashley's personal information and opened countless bank accounts, took out credit cards and is spending money Ashley doesn't have. He said he only found out about the scam when banks and collection agencies began sending him letters trying to collect on the debts.
"I'd like to have it stopped by somebody, I can't figure it out," he said.
Out of that amount, $10,000 owed to Discover Bank, more than $3,000 owed to American Express and nearly $1,000 owed to Huntington Bank.
"One account, after another, after another just kept popping up, and popping up," said Slusser.
Ashley does his banking at Chemical Bank in Gladwin and even his accounts there have been completely wiped out by the thief. Because the couple doesn't know who's doing it, they're stuck and the hurt is taking its toll.
"Nobody wants to help me, I mean I've tried everything on my own, to try to correct everything that we've got going on," said Slusser.
And until it stops, Slusser and Ashley said the trips to the mailbox won't get any easier.
So where do they go from here? They've reached out to the local sheriff's office, and the couple said they have been told the sheriff can't help because there isn't a suspect.
When they try to call banks to have these fraudulent accounts closed, Ashley is even having a tough time because he is having trouble convincing them he is who he says he is.
He said it is a complicated nightmare.
The couple is also looking for any legal help. If you have knowledge, you can call Slusser at (989)701-4456.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
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