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Appraiser’s Determination Pays Off in ID Theft Case

Appraiser’s Determination Pays Off in ID Theft Case

Following an identity theft case in which she did much of the investigation work on her own, a Vancouver-based appraiser was finally awarded restitution for loss of business, legal fees and time spent unraveling the scheme. Read on to see how much money was awarded to her, how the judge calculated the restitution amount and how the defense attorney’s arguments irked the judge overseeing the case. (11/26/2008)

A woman who stole the identity of a Vancouver appraiser to perform fraudulent appraisal work has been ordered to pay approximately $100,000 in restitution, The Columbian reported.

Valuation Review
reported on the identity theft case in September. In 2007, Kathy Carpenter learned that someone had been using her name and license number to perform appraisals. Carpenter contacted banks to alert them and to determine how many appraisals had been done in her name. Shortly thereafter, her business dropped off sharply, from 14 appraisals per month to one or two. She also went three months with no work.

Jean Faye Dodge — who previously managed a La Center appraisal company, JJ Property & Appraisal Services — appraised both commercial and million-dollar properties Carpenter wasn’t licensed to handle.

Carpenter and Dodge had met years prior, when Dodge had asked to accompany Carpenter on an assignment. Carpenter was often hired by JJ Property & Appraisal.

According to Carpenter, appraisal regulatory agencies in Washington and Oregon didn’t know how to respond to her questions for help, and lenders weren’t eager to work with her, as none of the loans involving the forged appraisals had defaulted. One, however, agreed to look for past reports to find Carpenter’s name — 16 were found.

Carpenter offered to work out a settlement with Dodge out of court. But when Dodge hired an attorney, Carpenter sued.

Dodge originally pleaded guilty to a count of identity theft in the second degree, three counts of forgery and one count of forging a digital signature.

She is serving a yearlong sentence in a Washington corrections center and was not at the latest hearing, where the judge calculated restitution by determining that Dodge owes Carpenter $72,000 for loss of business income. The deputy prosecuting attorney argued that Carpenter’s loss of business went beyond what she would have experienced just from the real estate slowdown. Banks, he argued, were worried about their own liability and viewed Carpenter as a risk.

The judge also ordered Dodge to reimburse Carpenter $23,435 for legal fees and $8,250 for her time spent investigating the scheme — Carpenter had filed reports in five counties where Dodge had done appraisals before a detective took interest.

The court-appointed defense attorney argued at the hearing that Carpenter should not be reimbursed so much money because she should have left the investigative work to police. However, the judge stated, if Carpenter hadn’t been so dedicated in her pursuit, the case never would have been prosecuted.

The defense attorney also argued that Carpenter’s professional reputation wasn’t severely damaged because Dodge “did really good appraisals,” a comment that drew criticism from the judge.

“That’s like saying, ‘They did a really good job in the bank robbery,’” the judge reportedly said. “It’s illegal behavior.”

The material presented above is for informational purposes and does not imply or guarantee insurance coverage from The Herbert H. Landy Insurance Agency or any other insurance provider. You should contact a qualified insurance representative to review and discuss specific aspects of any policy coverage and the insurance needs of your business. Visit www.landy.com for your Errors and Omissions Insurance needs.

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