It takes an identity thief

By JACLYN TROP  |  April 27, 2010

Keester was apprehended and returned to the facility until she was released on probation in June 2008. Then, several weeks later, Keester struck again, at the Natick Collection, where she duped a 23-year-old Hollywood Tan employee out of her driver’s license and Social Security card under the guise of hiring the woman as a makeup artist at Nordstrom’s Chanel counter. Keester, calling herself Katherine Garcia, returned four days later with a contract on Chanel letterhead, outlining compensation for the position of senior sales consultant — $20 per hour plus two-percent commission. Keester took the woman’s license and Social Security card, specifying that she wanted actuals, not copies. She called later, stating that the documents “had been accidentally shredded during the process.”

She then took the information and went to Boston, where she opened two bank accounts and a post-office box in the woman’s name. Keester then ordered blank checks, had them mailed to the P.O. Box, and used them to deposit funds from one bank into the other — she was able to get a couple thousand dollars from the scheme before the banks caught on and reported her. Meanwhile, the woman she bilked and her friends continued to see Keester at a nearby Boston Sports Club, where she sometimes visited three times a day, until she was arrested on a Stairmaster there several weeks later. Authorities said Keester “acted confused and claimed that she did not know what we were talking about.”

The Natick portion of the case was disposed in April 2009 with a guilty finding and Keester was released on time served, whereupon she was granted permission to move to Oklahoma to serve out her probation. (Related charges in Boston, however, still remain — and account for Keester’s three outstanding warrants.) Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials are not allowed to discuss Keester’s case publicly, but they gave enough information to hint that Keester is complying with the terms of her probation: they noted that she is “under supervision” of the Southwest District Community Corrections, Norman sub-office, until April 1, 2012, and noted that there were no new arrests since her arrival there.

In Oklahoma, at least one prospective employer has contacted Boston authorities after learning her story online. Those authorities can’t comment, as Massachusetts law forbids authorities from disclosing a person’s criminal record. The authorities added that they weren’t sure that it wasn’t Keester herself who called, digging for info on her case.

“You can’t love a violent criminal,” says Helsel. “But someone like Karen, you can just marvel at how clever she is. And how smart. The sky’s the limit with Karen.”

Jaclyn Trop is a freelance writer. She can be reached at jaclyn.trop@gmail.com.

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