It takes an identity thief

By JACLYN TROP  |  April 27, 2010

“She was attractive,” recalls the man, who asked to remain anonymous. “She seemed bright. She came across like a trustworthy person. Her and I hit it off with the whole military thing.

“She never drank much,” he adds. “She’d sip a beer.”

Keester told him that she stopped at the bar on her way home from work in an investment firm.

“She seemed to be very schooled in that,” the man remembers. “It seemed like a trustworthy role.”

After a few chance meetings, Keester suggested he open an investment account with her for $5000. He agreed to invest half that with her.

“You can just make it out to me,” she said. She promised to e‑mail a personal password to access the account.

“Oh, you don’t have to put anything in the memo line,” she said as he wrote the check.

“I remember that sticking out in my mind,” the man says. “She had it all worked out.”

It was the last time he heard from her.

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PHI BETA SCAMMER: After graduating from Babson College with a degree in accounting, Keester overcame below-average grades with a doctored résumé and fictional references. She parlayed these fake credentials into jobs that gave her access to the financial records, Social Security numbers, and other personal information she used in her thievery.

Playing the part
Durette’s team didn’t have to wait long for Keester to strike again. Her downfall at the fateful Check X Change in Allston came on June 13, 2006, when she was caught and arrested for trying to cash that fraudulent check for $1474.57 from Planned Parenthood, where she had just started a temp job in the accounting department. Though she lasted there just two weeks, she maximized her criminal capabilities, writing herself almost $10,000 in bogus checks. The incident led to six charges of identity theft and five for larceny.

“I wasn’t surprised,” says Blair. “You could tell that was the way she was earning her living.”

After investigators asked Planned Parenthood for Keester’s Internet history, they discovered she was taking out loans from a company called Educap, impersonating a 19-year-old Boston University student. She used the Social Security numbers of the company’s highest earners when applying for the loans, the investigators showed company executives. One executive who recognized her own Social Security on Keester’s loan applications said, “Oh, my God — that’s mine.”

In a subsequent phone conversation with Educap — recorded for training purposes — an exasperated Keester, who identified herself as Michelle, tried several times to use another employee as a co-signer, without success, because the Social Security number she gave did not match the name she gave her co-signer, “Aunt Sandy.”

“Again? Oh, my God!” said Keester sweetly as she tried to charm the loan representative while he processed the denied loan. Perhaps she should lower the amount from $8000 to $6000, Keester suggested to him. Then, investigators realized later, she called out to an imaginary companion: “Should I lower it, Aunt Liz?”

When the confused loan officer pressed for details, Keester didn’t skip a beat: Aunt Liz had a boat and another aunt, Sandy, “used to live in Quincy but bought a condo nearby.” Sandy’s husband, Uncle Brad, earned “not quite as much as Aunt Sandy,” she noted, when asked about his income, “but a lot.” Keester claimed that she lived with her aunt and uncle for 15 years, “since I was a little kid, ’cause they got custody of me when my parents had an accident.”

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