In the two years since she claims she fell victim to identity theft at the hands of a former business partner, a Scottsdale event planner has struggled to convince law enforcement to take her case seriously.
Just weeks ago, following multiple inquiries from the Progress, the Arizona Attorney General’s office confirmed it was looking into allegations of identity theft levied by Karen May against former business partner David Mark White.
May alleged White, who also goes by Mark White, used her personal information to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans online and in San Diego and both Phoenix Police and San Diego Police failed to follow up on her allegations.
May, who books upscale corporate events in northern Scottsdale, said the ordeal has ruined her credit and devastated her financially.
May said she had known White for around 20 years because they both work in the event industry in Arizona.
White owns White House Staging & Production, according to Arizona Corporation Commission records.
It is unclear if the company, which rents tents and staging equipment for large events, is still in operation.
A Yelp page for the business lists it as closed though the business is still listed as active with the Corporation Commission.
May said in 2016 she and White came to an agreement in which she signed over her company, Venues of North Scottsdale, and he agreed to hire her as an employee.
Arizona Corporation Commission filings show on Sept. 6, 2016, May signed ownership of Venues of North Scottsdale LLC to WPG LLC, an entity owned by White. May said no money changed hands because “it was just a name at that time so the clients come with me.”
A business plan from Aug. 1, 2017, for W Production Group LLC, another White-owned entity, lists May as White House’s primary sales executive and stated she would be paid a salary of $120,000 per year and receive 20 percent ownership of the company.
Emails from Aug. 2017 show White forwarded a request from a third-party accounting firm to May, requesting she fill out a form to begin processing payroll.
May said she received the business plan and filled out the employee documents but was never paid, so the partnership fizzled.
According to Corporation Commission filings, May has never held any ownership interest in White House Staging & Production LLC, W Production Group LLC or WPG LLC.
Instead, May alleged, White used information on her employment documents, including her Social Security number and a scan of her driver’s license, to take out loans and lines of credit.
May acknowledged she did sign onto a loan for a work truck when she believed the partnership was still legitimate.
However, May alleged, White later forged her signature and used her personal information to co-sign a loan application through Credibly, an online loan agency with offices in Scottsdale.
The $131,700 loan application from May 2017 was taken out under W Production Group and includes digital Docusign signatures from May under the guarantor and borrower headings. It also lists May as an owner of the company even though records show she has no ownership interest in W Production Group.
May said she never signed the document.
A Jan. 2019 letter to White and May from the offices of attorney David N. Ingrassia demanded payment of the “now-delinquent” $121,000 balance of the loan plus interest.
May has contacted local law enforcement and Ingrassia’s office to have herself removed from any potential litigation and the loan’s current status is unclear. Ingrassia did not respond to a request for comment.
Maricopa County Superior Court has no record of any lawsuit filed by Credibly or associated entities related to the May 2017 loan.
May said she was unaware of the alleged identity theft until a process server showed up at her door in relation to a line of credit White took out while in San Diego from a company called Red-D-Arc, which rents out welding equipment.
Red-D-Arc initially sued both White and May in Maricopa County Superior Court in Oct. 2018 to collect over $12,000 in owed payments plus interest, citing an application for credit included both of their signatures. May said she never signed the document.
The credit application, filled out in White’s name under the W Production Group banner, includes a signature for Karen May as a guarantor.
In her response to the lawsuit, May alleged White forged the signature and Red-D-Arc failed to perform due diligence to ensure it was legitimate.
In an amended complaint filed in court in 2019, Red-D-Arc acknowledged the error and alleged White committed fraud.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes Mark White and/or Doe defendants committed identity theft when they provided Application for Credit and Individual Guaranty and inserted an ‘e-signature’ into the Individual Guaranty, pretending to be Karen L. May.”
In Aug. 2019, the court released May as a defendant.
Bradley Gardner, an attorney with Mesa firm Udall Shumway, represented White in the Red-D-Arc case and told the Progress in October there is “Not much of a story here.”
“My client and the plaintiff have reached a tentative resolution to this case. It should be finalized in the next 7-10 days. No money in settlement is coming from Ms. May, only from my client,” Gardner wrote in an email.
The court issued a default judgment in favor of Red-D-Arc in September and White satisfied the judgment Oct. 31, according to court records.
Gardner did not respond to follow up questions regarding White’s response to the allegations of identity theft made during the case.
Questions sent to White’s business email bounced back with a message his inbox was full. A phone number listed for White was disconnected.
Subsequent attempts to contact White via Gardner were unsuccessful.
A spokesperson for the department confirmed the Attorney General’s Criminal Division was looking into the case, stating, “This is an ongoing matter. No further comment will be made at this time.”
Prior to the response from the Attorney General’s Office, May had approached both Phoenix Police and San Diego Police with evidence of the alleged identity theft but gained little traction.
May also filed complaints with the Arizona Attorney General’s Consumer Division, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI.
May also sent email requesting help to Gov. Doug Ducey’s Office, which suggested she contact a lawyer.
In the Credibly case, in which a loan was allegedly taken out online with May’s forged signature, Phoenix Police told May IP address information indicated the loan was taken out on a computer in Fullerton, California, based on IP address information.
An IP address is not always a reliable way to track fraudulent activity online because perpetrators can “spoof” their IP address to reroute through another address to conceal their location, according to the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology.
“Our investigator determined the crime was not committed within our jurisdiction and was forwarded to the Fullerton Police Department,” said Sgt. Vince Lewis, a Phoenix Police spokesperson.
However, Fullerton Police punted the case back to Phoenix.
“We were made aware of the case you referenced in your original email via law enforcement from the State of Arizona. That being said, the only connection to the City of Fullerton was an IP address that, when looked into further by our investigators, had no investigative value,” said Fullerton Police Spokesman Lieutenant Jon Radus.
Court records and testimony from others in the regional special events industry showed others have outstanding grievances with White.
Maricopa County Superior Court records show White and/or his businesses have had 12 civil judgments against them since 2001 totaling over $400,000.
According to court records, seven of those judgments have not been satisfied.
White did not respond to a request for comment submitted to his attorney about the outstanding judgments against him.