Chattanooga woman says identity theft landed her wrongfully in jail
BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
A Chattanooga woman says she's experiencing the worst case scenario of having a purse stolen. Now she's struggling to clear her name after she says she's fallen victim to identity theft.
Her driver's license is linked to several fraudulent checks cashed throughout the Tennessee Valley. It landed her in jail, but she says she's the victim and is out to prove it.
Tywanna Cal says her purse was stolen in East Chattanooga last year. She notified her bank and canceled her credit cards, but says her life has turned into a nightmare after finding out her I.D. is linked to multiple check fraud cases over the last several months.
"I don't want anybody to go through what I'm going through. I'm humiliated," Tywanna Cal said.
Tywanna Cal went to court in Bradley County Tuesday after spending three days in jail on forgery and theft charges. The affidavit says her driver's license was presented at small convenience stores around Bradley County in order to cash phony checks made to look like paychecks from different companies. But, she says whoever stole her wallet is behind it, not her.
"It seems like you would look at an I.D., look up and look back down and say this is not you," Cal said.
She went before a judge Tuesday. He gave investigators a month to consult with the store owners.
"I just want to clear my name and move on and let other people know to be careful," Cal said.
She dealt with a similar situation in North Georgia a few months ago, where her I.D. was presented with a fake Shaw paycheck at a Dalton convenience store.
"Went down there, identified it wasn't me, everything was clear and I thought that was going to be the last of it, but no," she said.
National statistics show more than 16 million people fall victim to identity theft each year. Detectives told Tywanna she should've reported her I.D. as stolen to police instead of just getting a new one.
"I thought I was going about it all the right way. Go get another I.D., get another car key, call in all your bank cards, get another phone., but that's not the issue," Cal said.
She hopes others will learn from her bad experience and that word will get around to local store clerks not cash any future checks in her name. She's a self-employed hair stylist.
"Don't cash no checks under Tywanna Cal. I don't work anywhere," she said.
Cal had no idea there was a warrant for her arrest until last week when a police officer pulled her over. She is due back in Bradley County court September 16th.