Local career center employee arrested for identity theft

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

A Port Allen woman who had worked for the Plaquemine career counseling service was charged last week with using the confidential information from the firm's customers to commit identity theft, bank fraud and forgery, according to Port Allen Police Chief Frederick W. Smith.

Janecia R. Fountain, 21, of 758 California Avenue is believed to have used the names, social security numbers and birthdates of more than 20 clients of the Iberville Career Solutions Center to acquire 33 temporary loans totaling more than $11,000 in cash, Smith said in a news release.

The Port Allen Police arrested Fountain last Wednesday on four counts each of forgery, bank fraud and forgery based on the findings of a joint investigation of the Port Allen Police Department, the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and the United States Secret Service Southwest Task Force, the chief said.

He said an immediate response from the administration of the Iberville Career Solutions Center was vital to the arrest.

Fountain was a temporary employee who has since been fired, according to a letter its program director, A C. Wilkinson, is sending out to the firm's customers.

“If you have not already done so, we recommend getting a copy of your current credit report and review your credit card statements,” Wilkinson wrote. He said the firm has taken steps to further secure electronic access to its customer information.

Fountain is accused of stealing the identity of two Port Allen residents after they made application at the career center for continuing education, resume or other assistance, and using their identity to acquire temporary “payday” loans, Smith said.

Fountain is accused of either removing or copying clients' personal information and using it to apply over the Internet for temporary payday loans of $200 to $500 each.

To facilitate the theft, Fountain is alleged to have made counterfeit bank statements and payroll check stubs in the names of the victims for the loan companies, while the victims were left in the dark, the news release said.

The suspect was being held at the West Baton Rouge Parish Detention Center on a $50,000 bond and a probation violation.

“At the time of her arrest, this individual had in her possession confidential information belonging to a limited number of our customers...” Wilkinson said.

The program director advised clients who have not been contacted already by the Port Allen Police to call Detective Jeremy Thompson at (225) 343-5525 or email him at jthompson@portallen.org immediately.

“Identity theft is a serious crime in our society today,” Chief Smith said. “With the Internet and implementation of the various forms of digital media, the means to carry out these crimes have increased. We feel that the best defense against this crime is being well informed.”

He advised people check their credit reports, which are provided free once a year. Information on identify theft or credit reports is available at www.ftc.org, www.identitytheftassistance.org, www.ag.louisiana.gov, www.annualreport.com, www.equifax.com, www.experian.com and www.transunion.com.