Woman charged with identity theft over $6,973 in power bills

Woman charged with identity theft over $6,973 in power bills

URBANA — A Champaign woman who allegedly stole other people's identity in order to obtain thousands of dollars worth of power for her home has been charged with identity theft.

The Champaign County state's attorney's office Monday filed four counts of the crime against Jennifer M. Dixon, 33, who listed an address in the 900 block of South Mattis Avenue.

The charges accuse her of stealing the personal information of four other people between September 2013 and September 2015 to open Ameren Illinois accounts to get power for a home on Maplecrest Drive in Champaign.

According to Champaign police reports, a woman from Dothan, Ala., contacted police in September after discovering that an Ameren account had been opened with her name and Social Security number in July 2014 and closed in March 2015. The victim learned of it when a collections agency contacted her trying to get the unpaid balance on the account of more than $2,800.

Champaign police learned that Dixon was the sole renter of the Maplecrest Drive home from October 2012 to August 2015 and that she was responsible for paying the utilities. Police found that while she lived there, an account in her own name was closed in September 2013, but that four other accounts in different names were opened and closed for the same address.

None of the women on the accounts, all of whom live out of state, had agreed to pay for utilities at the Champaign address. Police estimated the unpaid balances in the other women's names at $6,973.

Dixon told police that a couple years ago, she was having money troubles and was notified that her power would be shut off for non-payment of bills. She said a relative told her that he or she knew a person, who for a $100 fee, could have the power bill put in someone else's name so Dixon would not be responsible for it.

She told police that she had to have the account names switched on three more occasions but did not know the names or information of the other payees before the switches were made. The bills arrived in the names of the other women.

Dixon is charged with two counts of a Class 2 felony and two counts of a Class 3 felony alleging identity theft. If convicted of the more serious, she faces penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prsion.

She remains free on her own recognizance and is due back in court April 12.

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