COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An elderly woman is the victim of identity theft after she tried to help a man from her church.
Colorado Springs police said Essie Garner was arrested Saturday after he stole money from the Good Samaritan who tried to help him. Kathryn Young, 78, said she met Garner at the Salvation Army Church where she volunteers.
"I just couldn't believe it," said Young of the theft charges. "I was still in shock when he was walking out of here with handcuffs."
Young said she got a call from her bank that $2,000 had been transferred from her loan account to her checking, and there had been several ATM withdrawals. Police said Garner was caught on camera taking out money, and admitted he stole Young's debit card.
Young said she had been warned by her pastor about offering Garner her spare room as he looked for a job. She said she has been burned before by people she offered to help, but still felt compelled to do it.
"God tells us in the Bible that he's given each of us a plan to fulfill in our life, I'm still trying to find it," said Young.
She said, this time, she's learned her lesson, and has promised her daughter she'll never take in a stranger again. But she said, despite what happened, she'll keep looking for ways to help those who need it.
"I'll keep trying to do good, that hasn't bittered me," said Young. "I was always taught that everybody has at least one little bit of good in them, and I always look for it."
KRDO Newschannel 13 found out that Essie Garner has a long criminal past in El Paso County. He's been convicted of assault, criminal mischief and several fraud and theft charges.
Young said she has fraud protection on her debit card so she's hoping to to get all of her money back. Besides being careful about who you trust, there are other things you can do to protect your money and information.
Shred financial documents before throwing them away. Don't give out personal information on the phone or internet unless you're sure you know who you're dealing with. Never click on website links sent in unsolicited emails. Choose strong passwords for your online accounts and change them every 90 days.
For more information on preventing identity theft and what to do if you think you're a victim, click here .