3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Woman's life ruined in identity mix-up with prisoner

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"It's very frustrating to get people to see my side. I've been hung up on so many people, because they're thinking I'm the criminal."

A tearful Sadie Johnson says she's living a nightmare and it all began when she moved to Arizona from the east coast three years ago.

"I went to get my driver's license, I was denied that because of this other person. They said I didn't appear in court in Guadalupe."

Knowing there must be a mix-up Sadie went to court, explained she wasn't the Sadie Johnson they were looking for and managed to straightened things out.

However, her mistaken identity crisis is back in full swing these days.

For example, Sadie was recently accepted into a nursing school program back east, but her admission was quickly put on hold and she was even denied housing.

"They denied me an apartment over there (in Virginia Beach) because of her criminal background, which is Sadie Marie Johnson, and I'm Sadie Nicole Johnson."

And that's the problem, because this Sadie Nicole Johnson is being confused with Sadie Marie Johnson, a convicted felon currently serving prison time for child abuse and other crimes after tying up her younger siblings and setting their home on fire.

In fact, Sadie Marie Johnson's arrest made headlines here in the Valley.

Unfortunately, not only are their names similar but the two women share the identical birth date.

"It's very stressful because I'm feeling like people are treating me as the criminal. I'm the criminal."

And get this, Sadie Nicole Johnson once took classes at Rio Salado Community College.

And guess who's taking online classes from the exact same college from behind bars?

You guessed it, that prison convict with the similar name.

As a result, transcripts for the two Sadie Johnson's have merged into one and this Sadie has a transcript that shows she's incarcerated at the Perryville Prison Complex.

"And I'm like, 'How am I an incarcerated student when I'm at home?' You know?"

Sadie's situation is extremely rare but there are some things you can do to keep your identity secure?

For one, consider placing fraud alerts on your credit reports with all the three major credit bureaus.

Check and carefully review your credit report at least once a year.

Monitor your mail, it can be an identity thief's gold mine.

Never place outgoing mail in an unsecured mail box, and don't leave mail too long in your mailbox either.

Never carry your Social Security card with you and be careful where you write down your Social Security number.

Even on medical forms or at a doctor's office, your number may be requested but not required.

It's difficult to say if any of these steps would have helped out Sadie, but she's hoping that by sharing her identity crisis, it might help get her identity back.

"I plan on just going on with my life. I don't want this to hold me back from anything. I want to aspire to do so many different things in my life and I can't because of this."

This is a huge mess, 3 On Your Side is working with the FBI, the Social Security Administration, the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Corrections to stop confusing these two Sadie's.

There will be a follow-up report once we have some answers.

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