Ex-Utilities Worker Caught with ID Theft Info

A former Colorado Springs Utilities employee suspected of identity theft had a backpack filled with customers' personal information when she was arrested last week in Arizona, according to a police report released Thursday.

Elizabeth Ann Bischoff, 26, of Colorado Springs was arrested March 14 as she allegedly tried to buy a $93,000 black 2002 Porsche Carrera Turbo Coupe with a stolen identity, the Scottsdale Police Department report states.

Bischoff allegedly filled out paperwork using the name of an Ohio woman. When the dealer ran a credit check, it was in the victim's name, not Bischoff's, the report states.

Bischoff, who identified herself as Traci from Ohio, told the Porsche salesman she was in town on business and wanted to buy the car with no money down and make monthly payments of $1,800, the report states.

"It appeared she did not know how to drive a manual transmission because she stalled the vehicle twice during the test drive," the report states.

The salesman told Bischoff he couldn't release the car to her until he received proof of insurance, which was faxed the next day, on March 14. Bischoff then asked the dealer not to mail anything to her home address in Ohio but to reach her through a post office box in Scottsdale, which the salesman thought was odd.

The salesman shared his suspicions with other employees, one of whom called the phone number on the credit report.

The employee "spoke to the real Traci, who told him she was not purchasing a car and that her ID had been stolen," the report states.

The dealer called police, who notified Colorado Springs officers.

The Ohio victim told Scottsdale investigators that her debit card and driver's license were stolen from her purse several months ago at work at American Electric Power. They were swiped the week Bischoff was at the company installing software as a representative for Comverge, a Georgia-based group that works with utility companies, according to the police report.

Officers found the backpack in Bischoff's rental car at the Porsche dealership, and it had several manila folders with "numerous IDs that contained a photograph of the suspect but listed different names," the report states.

Police also found a printout of customer-billing statements, later identified as documents from Colorado Springs Utilities, the report says.

"There were numerous names, Social Security numbers and other personal identifying information on this printout," the report states.

Authorities compiled a list of 35 potential Utilities victims based on the information recovered, and just one had been confirmed as a victim by Thursday, Colorado Springs police said.

"Some of the customer information was outdated -- a couple of names on there were customers who had closed their accounts, and one person is deceased," Utilities spokeswoman Rachel Beck said.

Utilities officials have called the potential victims and mailed them letters, Beck said.

After Bischoff posted bail in Scottsdale, she returned to Colorado Springs, where police arrested her Tuesday during a traffic stop on suspicion of identity theft.

She was released after posting $1,000 bond early Wednesday morning. Calls to her home and cell phone were not answered.

Bischoff is suspected of stealing the identity of a man who rented a room in her home for three years in the 5700 block of Velvet Court on the city's northeast side, according to an arrest affidavit. He moved out six weeks ago.

Scottsdale police found an Excel document in Bischoff's rental car that had the victim's name, Social Security number, date of birth, address and numerous bank and credit card account numbers, according to the police report. The man told police Citibank recently contacted him to confirm a new billing address, which he hadn't changed.

It's unclear if Bischoff used the man's name fraudulently, according to the court documents. He told officers Bischoff had "a very bad habit of excessive spending. He recounted how she recently had a $20,000 sauna installed in her home as well as a very expensive tanning bed," the police report states.

Bischoff bought the Velvet Court house in 2002 for $280,000, according to county records.

Bischoff worked in customer service at Colorado Springs Utilities for about four years, leaving in November 2005. She had access to customer information that included customers' addresses, payment histories, full or partial Social Security numbers and bank-account information, if the customer was signed up to make payments electronically.

A computer-system upgrade that has been in the works will block out all but the last four digits of a Social Security number and bank-account information, Beck said.

Colorado Springs Utilities employs about 2,000 people and serves about 300,000 homes and businesses.


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