Tags: iowa | church | identity | theft

Ex-Con Swipes Identities — at Church for Inmates

By Andra Varin   |   Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 02:17 PM

You might think that your identity would be safe from thieves at church. Not so at an Iowa church for imprisoned women, where a former inmate stole personal information from dozens of volunteers and used the information to obtain credit cards in the victims' names, church officials said.

Shelley Bridges, 37, of Indianola helped herself to the information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, while she worked as an administrative assistant for the Well United Methodist Church in 2007, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday.

Volunteers are required to submit the information to receive clearance from the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women in Mitchellville. The church ministers to inmates from the prison.

Officials said Bridges was accused of 40 cases of identity theft. She has been charged with a felony count of ongoing criminal conduct.

The Rev. Lee Schott told the Register that she hopes the security breach will not scare away volunteers.

"We’re hoping that people will remain committed to the mission of this congregation and the work that we do with these women," Schott said.

Bridges was an active member of the congregation while she was inmate. After her release in 2007, the group Women at the Well gave her a job as an administrative assistant. Her employment ended when she went back to prison in 2008, the Register reported.


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