The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 9, 2014

Woman indicted for identify theft; DA issues warning

By MARY RAINWATER
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — The Anderson County District Attorney's office has obtained a grand jury indictment against Leisa Annette Jones, 47, of Palestine for stealing the identities of at least 20 local people to create bogus checks.

The indictment returned by the Anderson County grand jury on Dec. 19, 2013 alleges that forged checks were passed in Anderson and surrounding counties using confidential personal identifiers.

Most of the checks were written for purchases at Wal-Mart, Brookshire’s and other retail outlets.

Because there may be other victims who are unknown to law enforcement, District Attorney Doug Lowe encourages citizens to review their bank accounts, credit card statements and credit reports to make sure their identities have not been used by a criminal.

Law enforcement officials believe Jones was able to get enough personal and bank account information off of the Internet to make the fake checks.

Jones, who was incarcerated in the Anderson County Jail on unrelated charges earlier this year, also is under investigation for forging checks on the inmate trust account of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

The lead investigator in that case is ACSO Investigator Sgt. Brian Chason.

“Sergeant Chason followed the trail that began with two forged inmate trust account checks and some bad checks that our hot check department was presented for collection,” Lowe said. “He discovered that a number of local people had been victimized as well as the sheriff’s office.

“Brian did a great job on this case and has notified all of the victims he is aware of. But, frankly, I am concerned that there may be more people in our community whose identities have been used by criminals — not just allegedly by Jones,” Lowe added. “The only way we will know is if they contact Sgt. Chason or Investigator Chris Dobbs with our office.”

Lowed urged citizens to review all bank and credit card statements to see if there are any suspicious checks, withdrawals or credit charges. He also suggests residents obtain a copy of their credit report for review.

“If, after you’ve looked at your report and there is account on your report that you didn’t authorize, you should do a ‘credit freeze’ that keeps anyone from accessing your credit history without prior approval,” Lowe instructed. “Then call law enforcement and our office at 903-723-7400.”

Texas residents are allowed one free credit report per year. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228 for more information.

If Jones is found guilty of the crime, her possible punishment is increased to a second degree felony because of prior criminal convictions. The indictment alleges an extensive criminal history including cases from Dallas County for felony theft, robbery and possession of a controlled substance.

Third District Judge Mark Calhoon has set a bond of $250,000. Jones is currently incarcerated in the Dallas County Jail.