Lawrence police arrest woman facing 111 counts, accused of charging thousands to victims’ accounts

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) - On Wednesday, the Lawrence Police Department announced the arrest of a local woman accused of taking advantage of coworkers, acquaintances and a neighbor by stealing their personal identifying information and fraudulently charging thousands of dollars to the victims’ accounts.

Billie Jean Peterson, a 25-year-old from Lawrence, was taken into custody and charged with felony theft along with 26 counts of criminal use of a financial card, 28 counts of unlawful computer acts, and 56 counts of identity theft. She is facing 111 total counts involving 18 victims.

According to police, the investigation began in March when a group of women who worked with Peterson at a local dental office realized they each had fraudulent charges on their bank cards.

“People can’t always necessarily prevent somebody from obtaining and using their information fraudulently,” said Officer Kelsey Pence, with the Lawrence Police Department Investigations Division’s Special Victims Unit. “If you are diligent about checking bank accounts/online banking often - so that if you do have something happen, if you notice it quickly - it’s easier to address it.”

Investigators say evidence and dozens of interviews found potential victims dating back to June of last year.

A spokesperson for Heartland Community Health Center said former employee Billie Jean Peterson was employed at Heartland from June 14, 2021 to November 26, 2021.

“We are grateful for the dedicated Heartland staff who have worked with LKPD on this investigation, and we are devastated by the theft and invasion of privacy that our staff experienced,” said Heartland Community Health Center Chief Development Officer Elizabeth Keever. “Heartland Community Health Center is not aware of any evidence that shows patients have been impacted and have been working with Lawrence Police Department on this investigation.”

Investigators executed a search warrant in April. They found additional evidence of more potential victims. Officers contacted each person whose information they found during the search.

“Just because your bank card is not missing or something with your personal identifying information on it is not missing, that doesn’t mean that somebody doesn’t have the information and could still use it,” Officer Pence said.

The Lawrence Police Department recommends that, if you believe you are a victim of criminal activity related to the investigation, you contact your financial institution to stop any fraudulent activity. Then, contact the Lawrence Police Department at 785-832-7559.

Previous coverage:

Lawrence woman arrested on 111 counts related to fraud of coworkers, neighbors