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Man targets daughter in identity theft case

READ MORE: Man targets daughter in identity theft case
WILMINGTON -- Identity theft is spreading across the country and can happen any time, anywhere and to anyone. One Wilmington woman was a victim of this growing problem. Nineteen-year-old Julie Ponteri is trying to pay her own way through Cape Fear Community College. Paying bills can be tough and things just got even more difficult. Ponteri said, "He used my social security number and took out a loan for about $950 and did not pay for it." She quickly figured out that her father was the culprit. But as police tracked him down, she was left to clean up the mess. Julie is temporarily ineligible for credit cards and is in the process of changing her social security number. Ponteri said, "It's been a very large hassle. Everyday I've had to call people constantly, so I've dialed all 1-800 numbers and gone from one person to the next." Ponteri is not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission there were over 5,000 identity theft victims in North Carolina last year. Thirty percent of those victims were between 18 and 29 years old. Private investigator Bill Ratcliff handles cases of identity fraud. He says he's seen cases like Ponteri's where one family member robs another. He says it's very important for victims to protect themselves before going after the thief. Ratcliff said, "You want to stop it. That's the main thing is to stop it. And get your identity back, to get everything back to you." Ponteri says her father hasn't been caught yet. She's confident her problems will be solved eventually. In the meantime, she says she's learned a valuable lesson. "I never thought this would happen to me. And it did and it could happen to anyone. And it's hard and it's an everyday problem, you know. Anyone can do it." Ponteri says she now keeps her personal information under lock and key and is extra careful with all her personal documents.

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