Ex-counterfeiter says stealing personal information was easy

Ex-counterfeiter says stealing personal information was easy

Mary had a problem with drugs, and as her addiction grew so did the need for money.

"I heard about people stealing mail and making counterfeit checks," she said.

She says with stolen account information, she would print up fake checks and ID cards to match. Getting the information was easy.

"Through stealing mail, through bank dumpsters, through garbage behind auto loan places. Places that procure your information and then throw it away," she said.

Mary says on a slow day she would cash $500 in counterfeit checks, and on a good day, $2,000. In all, 250 victims were scammed out of almost $50,000.

"We said we would get to a certain amount of money and then we would stop," Mary said. "But it never seemed we got to that. If we got there, we needed more. It's an illusion."

Mary and her husband were arrested. She spent more than two years in jail and says now she wants to make amends.

"I want to tell you that that is the reason I want to do this is because it was so easy, it's sickening," she said.

As for her victims?

"They were very upset. Not only about the monetary loss which some of them suffered, but moreover they were very upset about their good name being trashed. It takes a significant amount of time to clear that off the records," said David Birch, U.S. postal inspector.  

If you have a mailbox, Mary has some advice.

"If you're going to be out of town, don't let your mail pile up," she said.

Also, ask questions.

"If you use a bank, make sure they shred your information. Any business that is going to take your personal information, ask them ahead of time how do you dispose of my information?" she said.

Mary says her drug addiction made her do desperate things and she apologizes to the victims of her crimes.

"I used this in a letter to my judge that remorse is defined as deep, moral, anguish and regret, and that is an understatement for what I feel," she said.

The U.S. Postal Service says everyone should follow Mary's advice and take every precaution possible to keep their personal financial information secure and out of the hands of con artists.