LAKE WALES, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Polk County woman is accused of stealing her neighbor’s identity. According to Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigators, it was the area mail carrier who gave the victim a heads-up she might be getting scammed.
Detectives say the 21-year-old suspected scammer took advantage of the woman living right next door.
“Red flags went up for this mail carrier,” said Brian Bruchey with the sheriff’s office.
Back in March, the diligent postal worker told a Lake Wales woman packages and letters with her name on them were being delivered to an abandoned house around the corner.
“She saw something that wasn’t right, she said something to the victim, the victim said something to us,” Bruchey said.
After taking a look at her bank statements, the woman noticed about $1,000 worth of transfers, purchases, and payments she didn’t make.
“There was purchases being made without the victim’s knowledge, credit cards being applied for using her personal information talking about her name, date of birth, social security number,” Bruchey said.
According to arrest paperwork, the woman’s next door neighbor, Breanna Piatt, admitted she was the one buying things online and opening credit cards.
The 21-year-old didn’t want to comment on-camera when FOX 13 News knocked on her door Monday. But she did have things to say to detectives when she was picked up earlier this month.
Investigators said Piatt first told them she had permission to take the money.
“She tried giving a story but the story just wasn’t adding up right to the detective, there were too many holes and things she couldn’t explain,” said Bruchey.
In court documents, Piatt claims the woman forgot she gave her the go-ahead to spend her money -- explaining she’s unemployed and needed to pay her bills, reconnect the internet, and watch Netflix.
“Now this lady, this victim, she had helped this girl out and her family in the past, and so she’s distraught, she has trusted this family and particularly this girl who is taking advantage of her,” Bruchey said.
Piatt faces 20 counts of illegal use of credit cards, 20 counts of giving false information to obtain a credit card, grand theft, and criminal use of personal information. She is set to be arraigned next month.