Identity thieves target disabled woman while she was at hospital

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MUKILTEO, Wash. - Everett police have broken up what they say was a major identity theft ring that victimized at least 64 people, including a disabled Mukilteo woman whose home was burglarized while she was at the hospital.

 

The alleged ringleader, 32-year-old Melissa Martin, is jailed pending $650,000 bail. She is accused of identity theft, financial fraud and forgery -- ripping off dozens of people in Snohomish County.

 

Marsha Haggerty appeared to be in pain as she used her walker to get around her tiny apartment on Monday.  She suffers from a wide range of illnesses, including osteo-arthritis, epilepsy and bad knees. 

 

Haggerty said she was at a hospital receiving treatment for a stroke when her apartment was broken into in January of last year.

 

"They had taken everything ours -- the cabinets, drawers, everything," Haggerty told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

 

The thieves stole everything of value -- even the Egyptian cotton sheets on her bed.  But she said the most hurtful theft was her documents, including her passport, birth certificate and Social Security card.  They even took documents from her late husband.

 

"They took his death certificate, his birth certificate, his Social Security number," Haggerty said.

 

She said the crooks then used her stolen ID to open phone and credit card accounts. 

 

Haggerty was one of at least 64 victims of the five-person theft ring.  Prosecutors said the ring conducted a wide range of identity and property theft over the past two years.

 

Haggerty said she is still traumatized by the break-in, but is happy to see justice done.

 

"I'm glad they got caught," she said. "Here's to the system."