Identity Theft

‘Real Housewives’ Star Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Fraud

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Important life lesson: Being on TV will not keep you from going to jail. A federal judge sentenced Apollo Nida, husband of Phaedra Parks from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” to eight years in prison for a $2 million fraud operation that involved stealing about 50 identities over the course of four years, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Nida, 35, pleaded guilty to bank, mail and wire fraud, and identity theft in May, which helped reduce his sentence. He has insisted Parks was not involved in the scheme. Judge Charles Pannell could have sentenced him to anywhere between 92 to 115 months (about 7 2/3 to 9 2/3 years) but went slightly above the minimum because white-collar criminals like Nida have a tendency to relapse, Pannell said.

“Today’s sentencing exemplifies impartial justice regardless of economic class or perceived celebrity status,” said Reginald G. Moore, an agent in the Atlanta field office of the Secret Service, in a news release. “Nida’s sentence should be an eye-opener for other like-minded criminals who scheme to steal victims’ identities, defraud them and ignore the consequences of their actions.”

How Identity Thieves Hurt Others

It takes time to recover from identity theft, (here are some steps to take if it happens to you) and depending on the extent of the fraud, victims can suffer severe hardship as a result of financial losses and credit damage. While they should eventually be made whole, the time between fraud and restitution can be extremely challenging.

Consumers need good credit to receive loan approval and decent interest rates on credit products, as well as reasonable insurance rates, housing and, in some cases, employment. Credit damage isn’t beyond repair, but it takes time, so if your credit has been trashed by an identity thief, it can be an especially long and frustrating process.

It can be difficult to prevent fraud, so one of the best things consumers can do to protect themselves is monitor their credit and act quickly in response to signs of unauthorized use of bank accounts, Social Security numbers or credit cards. You should check your free annual credit reports, account transactions and credit scores as often as possible. With free tools like Credit.com’s snapshot of your credit data, it’s easy to track progress and spot problems with your credit profile, so you can avoid disastrous effects of prolonged fraud.

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