Hacker Went After Her Niece. Big Mistake

'USA Today' recounts an Ohio woman's amateur but successful investigation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2022 11:21 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2022 7:25 AM CST
Hacker Went After Her Niece. Big Mistake
   (Getty / Chainarong Prasertthai)

It's not your usual story about identity theft. In this case, USA Today recounts how an Ohio woman with no background in such things decided to track down a hacker who had stolen her niece's credentials. "It’s about my niece, but I hate when people do the wrong thing ... knowingly stealing and ruining peoples’ lives,” says 51-year-old Zina Wilson. The saga began when Wilson's niece began receiving all kinds of warnings from collection agencies about overdue bills from places such as Las Vegas where she had never been. Over 18 months of amateur detective work, Wilson discovered that somebody in Vegas was running elaborate scams using her niece's name and credentials. For example, the person would rent an apartment in her niece's name, then sublet it to someone else, say police.

Wilson traveled to Vegas herself and got hold of the bogus rental agreements. Her break came when she discovered that the alleged hacker had apparently slipped up and used a real phone number on a document. That led her to suspect Lashawnda Scales, and the Las Vegas police took up the case (after five other agencies turned it down). Police arrested the 29-year-old Scales, who has a previous forgery conviction, a history of aliases, and a penchant for flashing cash on social media, according to the story. One last twist of the case: Scales, who faces 35 felony counts of identity theft and related charges, was released on $50,000 bail. Authorities says she cut off her ankle monitor on November 9 and fled, and she remains at large. (Read the full story.)

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