Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

June 10, 2013

Fraud turns one world upside down

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — It wasn’t storms or tornadoes that turned a Pauls Valley woman into a victim this week as somehow thieves from several states away found a way to literally take just about everything she has.

Now a shaken Sharon Fordham doesn’t know how she’ll make it this month as it looks like thieves used a phony card to drain an account that contained all of her disability benefits for June.

Making it far worse is the fact these benefits, deposited just hours before the theft, are the only source of income for Fordham.

The theft has naturally turned her world upside down as she ponders how to pay her rent or just plain make it for an entire month without any money.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Fordham said while fighting to hold back tears. “I’ve been going all over and can’t find anybody who can help me.

“I’m just lost.

“I want to show people what is happening; that someone can be bold enough to mess with government money.”

Because of a disability Fordham receives Social Security benefits, which go directly each month into an account. She accesses that account using a debit card.

Earlier this week she went to a local store to buy a few things and naturally was surprised when told her account had insufficient funds to make the purchase.

Fordham then went to her daughter, who accessed the account’s statement online to see what kind of activity had been going on.

They made the horrifying discovery that someone had fraudulently accessed the account and almost literally drained it dry leaving Fordham with next to nothing.

“They left me with a grand total of $2 for the month,” Sharon said. “Then there’s the 53 cents I had left over from last month. So that leaves me $2.53 to live on this month. That money was my sole income.

The two fraudulent cash withdrawals totaling nearly $950 were done at an automated bank machine somewhere in the Los Angeles, Calif., area.

“I’m totally shocked. How could anybody hack into the Treasury Department and get the SSI funds,” she said, referring to her Social Security benefits.

“I have no idea how they did this. All I know is the perpetuator used a Wells Fargo ATM in the Brentwood-Los Angeles area to take my money.”

Adding to the shock of being victimized this way is that money was her entire income for the month of June.

“Someone got my personal information or it was identity theft and they fabricated a card and used it at an ATM.”

No answers for the theft look to be coming after Fordham spoke with law enforcement here and in California. She even spoke with someone in the theft division of the company issuing her debit card.

Although on Thursday she was approved to start receiving food stamps, Fordham still has few options on how to get by this month.

She’s lived in a local apartment complex for more than two years. The timing of the theft has left her with no money to pay this month’s rent and facing the possibility of being evicted from her home.

Anyone interested in helping Fordham can contact her by calling 405-238-2497.

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