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Retired Nurse Paying Price as Victim in Fraud Scheme

Dorothy LaGrone said she first noticed something irregular last July.

The 74-year-old retired nurse, who has lived at her Anaheim residence for 26 years, received a card from the post office confirming an address change. A few months later, she discovered that someone had changed the home address on her file with TRW, a national credit reporting agency.

A number of unauthorized purchases also began showing up on Dorothy LaGrone’s credit card accounts, including $600 in cosmetics at Nordstrom Department Store in Costa Mesa, for which she received a thank-you note. Items also were purchased at Broadway and Robinsons-May department stores and a Victoria’s Secret lingerie store, receipts show. In addition, Norwest Financial California finance company in Downey issued a $2,500 loan in Dorothy LaGrone’s name, court records show. LaGrone also learned that someone had applied for a $10,000 loan in her name at a Household Finance Corp. office in Cerritos. A loan officer became suspicious, however, and never issued the check.

Police say Debra LaGrone, 39, of Downey, made all of the changes and fraudulent purchases. In fact, authorities say, Debra LaGrone virtually assumed Dorothy LaGrone’s identity.

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The change-of-address form listed Debra LaGrone’s address in Downey as the new location for Dorothy LaGrone. The changed address with TRW was the former Bellflower residence of Debra LaGrone’s mother, Kathleen Montgomery, according to court documents.

Authorities believe that Debra LaGrone obtained Dorothy LaGrone’s credit information from a credit bureau when she was working at a mortgage company in Newport Beach.

“Nobody knows what a hassle this has been,” said Dorothy LaGrone, who suffered a mild heart attack recently. “I’ve paid my bills all these years and then to have someone do this to me doesn’t feel good.”

Dorothy LaGrone has notified several credit card companies about the unauthorized charges, and has called credit bureaus in an effort to clear her credit record. But new bills kept arriving at her home through March, she said.

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