Rice's story starts out like this . . .
"In typical identity theft cases, the thief goes after a bank account or a line of credit. In Kathy Carpenter's case, the thief was even more bold. A woman took Carpenter's professional identity as a real estate appraiser, using Carpenter's name and license number. She even appraised commercial and million-dollar properties that Carpenter, a residential appraiser, isn't licensed to do. Jean Faye Dodge, former manager of a La Center appraisal company, is now in prison. But Carpenter's troubles aren't over."
Appraisal Scoop caught up with real estate appraiser Kathy Carpenter and asked her to tell appraisers a little more about her story. I told her that I had been a victim of "minor" identity theft myself and had some idea of the frustrations she's encountered throughout this ordeal. We hope her tale will alert appraisers, appraisal boards, appraisal organizations and federal agencies on the devastating consequences appraisers face from identity theft.
In these times where appraiser's jobs are difficult enough, mine not only got tough, but for all practical purposes went away. In addition it forced me to spend "billable hours" sifting through the remains of this well woven web.
The problem was, I knew this person. I had contracted with her company for a few years after the major AVM she represented left town and she continued her appraisal network to funnel work to me and some other appraisers in the area.
The other problem, it was a "virtual" crime of sorts. No one physically took something, or came onto my property, yet the repercussions were farther reaching. There was no compromise of my software, or my computer. It was a simple copy, edit paste (and a bad job of it at that with a barely legible, fuzzy facsimile of my name). It was all too easy.
The renewal of my license every two years in OR/WA seemed to be a joke when I made a call to the Appraiser's boards in each state and they basically said "too bad". Since Jean Faye Dodge wasn't a licensed appraiser, they had no jurisdiction to sanction her or her actions. Yet, they also offered no advice to me, the "law abiding citizen" involved in this the scam.
Even my E&O insurance could give me no guidance. Unless it was an infraction that I had committed; then everyone would have been all over me! So I was forced to schlep off to each and every county (that I knew of) where the fraudulent appraisals were performed.
Time after time, I had to re-tell the story. Sometimes to deputies who had bigger fish to fry, and once to one that used to be a mortgage broker and really understood the plight I was now up against, acknowledging my frustration. I was directed to the FBI, but quickly realized I was a small fish in a large sea. They weren't opening new cases for investigation unless they tallied in the millions, not the thousands or hundreds of thousands.
So I hired a lawyer to file a civil case. I found out about the forgeries on March 20, 2007 when my lawyer started getting copies of Jean Dodge's work (as me). We had one where she had even signed my name in her own handwriting (not "just" photo-shopped it) as recently as May, 2007. My observation: The legal representation for Ms. Dodge was less than helpful to her. They seemed to be telling her that this would go away.
It was so obvious that she was guilty over and over again. The only proceedings they could file were ridiculous distractions and time stalling tactics, hoping that I would throw up my hands in frustration and walk away. That however was never an option to me, I #1 wanted her to STOP, and #2 wanted a filing in the courts that would set some sort of precedence so others faced with any similar infractions could reference this case. I even offered to pay for mediation through a retired judge who would act as independent arbitrator to come to an agreement. An hour before those proceedings, they canceled.
Even after this criminal proceeding, and Jean in prison, I have to go to court and PROVE that I am owed money. Hourly wages for time spent on the case, business lost for months while the lenders tried to figure out if I was me?!
And then there's the possibility of IRS, Social Security mis-representation and calculation. This "web" could be deeper than I could ever imagine. It's also evident, I'll NEVER know how much money Ms. Dodge made in my name.
The lending institutions are reluctant to cooperate as their negligence in the matter is obvious as well! We had to go back to court twice, because her legal counsel tried to put through a guilty plea that would acknowledge what she had done, but not take the liability away from me of proving my innocence in additional possible upcoming litigation (foreclosures of properties she appraised in my name etc).
And here's a kicker........the second time at sentencing, her lawyer delayed the proceedings to the point that when I returned to my vehicle, I had exceeded the allowed parking time (couldn't have left the courtroom to add time/money or move the car) and got a parking ticket. Guess I'll just have to add that to my restitution total?!
Appraisal Scoop asked Kathy what she wanted reader of this blog to get from her story?
"Really, I'm looking to raise awareness on this one. To get some "institutions" or government "agencies" to see what we are up against. How about some help with my legal fees since even though I may not bother with the civil case now as my "objectives" have been met....yet down the road those groups will reap the benefits of what has been filed (the county prosecutor took EVERYTHING we had already done. I'm pretty sure he might not have pursued the case if we didn't hand it (our research) over, as it would have been tediously time consuming.....we had been into it 4/07-11/07."
Thanks to Kathy Carpenter for sharing her story! Since (or during) all of this, Kathy has been developing a children's program (www.yeahyeahoutloud.com) YEAH! YEAH! Out Loud! She began working on her initial idea back in 2004 but didn't get product and site up until December 2007.
Kathy says " ......but having that as a distraction, fed me life that was getting sucked out on the "other side"