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#abq4ward: Woman takes matters into her own hands against identity thief

Steve Soliz
July 20, 2017 07:40 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Angelica Sanchez is Albuquerque born-and-raised, having grown up in the West Mesa and attending Rio Grande High School.

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It was a time when the Duke City was a safer place.

“I can remember taking the bus everywhere and not really having any issues; staying out late at night and playing with friends,” Sanchez said. “Being able to just walk to a friend’s house and my mom not having to worry that I wasn’t going to come home.”

Things have changed.

First, her car was stolen last year. Then stacks of mail were taken from her mail box.

That’s when the next crime wave would hit Sanchez and her family.

“It was around Christmas time and we started receiving UPS packages with credit cards,” she said.

She thought the cards were just advertisements sent by online retailers. It turns out – as Sanchez discovered after contacting the credit bureau – someone had activated them.

“Even though we physically had the card, they had the number and our information,” she said.

Sanchez said the identity thief had eight different cards in her and her husband’s name. She put a hold on their lines of credit, and things went quiet for some time.

Four weeks later, a phone call from her husband let Sanchez know they weren’t in the clear yet.

“He said, ‘Angelica, I got a phone call from the credit bureau and apparently somebody is at Discount Tire, trying to purchase tires for a vehicle with my information,’” she said.

The identity thief was trying to open another line of credit using her husband’s information. That was the last straw for Sanchez, who decided to take matters into her own hands.

She drove to the Discount Tire at Montgomery and I-25, and as she was doing so, she made two phone calls. One was to the Albuquerque Police Department, asking officers to meet her at the shop.

The other call was to the Discount Tire manager, who she asked to help her by stalling the criminal.

“Can you please tell them that you’re going to put tires on the vehicle?” she asked the manager to say, the gears turning in her head. “Tell them you’re going to give them a ridiculous price just so they’re excited about it so they’ll stick around and wait for new tires.”

Sanchez said she was able to get to the store just in time to watch Albuquerque police arrest the identity thief.

“Even as they were being arrested, the gentleman who had stolen my husband’s identity was still stating that he was my husband,” she said. “So the police officer had to come in and confirm that, in fact, he was not my husband.”

That thief, Michael Vallejos, is now serving three years in prison for his crimes.

Unfortunately, the troubles didn’t end that day. As Vallejos was beginning to serve his sentence, Sanchez received a bill from Presbyterian hospital for thousands of dollars.

That’s because Vallejos used her husband’s identity to have an abscess removed from his neck, leaving the Sanchez family with the bill.

After their previous home invasion and having their vehicle stolen, the Sanchez family has been through the gamut of crimes that have become far too common in the city.

“This was just icing on the cake,” she said.

Still, Sanchez said she isn’t giving up on her home town.

“I think that as individuals, we make up what Albuquerque is,” she said. “I could sit here and complain and cry about how miserable and unhappy I am, but I need to see the positive. I think when people look at the positive, like what happened today, that might set the tone for people to want to be better."

Credits

Steve Soliz

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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