Persons of interest have been identified in the Stewpot ministries identity theft case. The Jackson organization's mail was redirected to an abandoned house in south Jackson over the holiday season, sending more than $100,000 in donations there.
Stewpot Executive Director Frank Spencer says the names of the persons of interest in the case have not been released by postal inspectors.
Spencer said sometime between around Nov. 27 someone filled out a change of address form for Stewpot Community Services. The organization's mail went to the abandoned home in south Jackson until about Dec. 15.
The organization's funds were down to about $700 a couple of weeks ago. A fundraiser this week raised $12,000 for Stewpot. Spencer doesn't believe the organization will have to shut down any ministries in the near future.
Each day Stewpot helps at least 650 homeless and mentally challenged residents in Jackson.
Spencer says the missing money could pay the yearly salary of at least three case workers at Stewpot. Forty percent of stewpot's income is donated in the months of November and December. In fact, giving was up in 2012, compared to 2011 numbers, until this case of identity theft struck.
"That's almost the operating costs of one of the various ministries we have here. Our shelters take about $150,000 each and other ministries are about the same. So, it's very hurtful to Stewpot. It means less services we're able to provide," explained Spencer.
He encourages people who make donations to check their bank account to ensure their gift clears the bank.
The U.S. Postal Service Inspector's office says this type of identity theft is rare in Mississippi.
No arrest has been made in the investigation. The postal inspector's office is pursuing criminal charges in the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the postal inspector's office at 601-351-7152.
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