AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police arrested a man who they say is connected to an identity theft ring spanning across Central Texas.
Mark Maritano, 45, is now facing a slew of charges including burglary and debit card abuse.
“I honestly felt so invaded,” said Catherine, an alleged victim of the crime ring. She wanted to remain anonymous after saying she was completely violated last October, having both her identity and car stolen. “It’s definitely changed my life.”
The University of Texas student woke up one morning to find her apartment door wide open.
“Once I was getting ready to go to school I looked for my keys and my wallet and I couldn’t find it,” she said. Her car was also gone. She quickly called police and her debit card provider.
“I told them to freeze it send me a new card,” she added. “I looked at the statements and it was used at a 7-Eleven near my house.”
Police retrieved surveillance images of a man using Catherine’s debit card at the convenience store and investigators used the surveillance images to connect Maritano to the case.
Austin Police say the 45-year-old is a part of a complex financial crime ring that is under investigation by agencies across the state. Police have not disclosed an exact number of victims.
At some point, many of us will fall victim to identity theft.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
First — place a fraud alert on your credit line by contacting a credit reporting agency.
After that, you can begin the process to replace lost or stolen cards.
One of the most important things to remember: keep a record of everything you do as you try to repair your credit.
“The person who used my identity and my credit card was a different person that used my car,” Catherine said.
By time police recovered Catherine’s car, it was totaled.
Detectives say they located Maritano in an Austin motel Wednesday with other people’s credit cards in his possession.
The whole ordeal has been a whirlwind for Catherine as she works to piece her life back together.
“Be more aware don’t have a false sense of security, always lock your doors for sure,” said Catherine. “Double check you locked your door.”
Maritano had four different warrants out for his arrest. He’s now being held in the Travis County Jail on charges of burglary of a habitation, unauthorized use of a vehicle and four counts of credit card abuse. His bond was been set at more than $100,000.