The ex-wife of a man accused of orchestrating a national credit-repair fraud scheme was arrested Tuesday, bringing the total number of people facing criminal charges in the conspiracy to three.
Jessica Clements-Batiste, 26, faces racketeering counts for helping her former spouse, 24-year-old Donald Batiste, trick hundreds of people into buying stolen Social Security numbers as a purported way to restore their credit, Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell announced in a news release.
Batiste and another alleged co-conspirator, Brenda Milson Taylor, 64, were arrested in the case last month.
Central to the fraud scheme, authorities say, were so-called credit profile numbers, or CPNs, that Batiste sold to unsuspecting clients under the guise the digits were alternatives to Social Security numbers.
In reality, the codes were legitimate Social Security numbers assigned to other people, many of whom were children, according to the release.
Aided by Clements-Batiste and Taylor, Batiste used his company, Best Inc., to peddle his credit-repair services, allowing customers using the CPNs to obtain bank loans, buy vehicles and procure lines of credit, authorities said.
Clements-Batiste also worked with professional forgers to create fake Social Security cards, bank statements, utility bills and tax documents, the release states. Using a CPN, she obtained an auto loan for herself to buy an H3 Hummer sport utility vehicle, authorities said.
Clements-Batiste collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees from clients who believed they were accessing new lines of credit, according to the release.
More than 50 vehicles were purchased by patrons of Best Inc., resulting in more than $1 million in funded auto loans; meanwhile, more than $3 million in pre-approved auto loans were granted, authorities said. Customers also accessed more than $1.2 million in credit lines at clothing and jewelry stores and other services.
Clements-Batiste, who resides in Texas, was booked Tuesday morning into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.