Medford woman receives 7½ years for identity theft

Medford woman receives 7½ years for identity theft

A 36-year-old Medford woman was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison Wednesday for a series of identity thefts that damaged the credit of 33 people, police said.

Christina Lynn Harrison pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to seven counts of identity theft, tampering with evidence, first-degree aggravated theft and unlawful use of a computer, court records show.

Harrison, who is no stranger to prison after having served time in 2005 for identity theft, was described by Medford Detective Katie Ivens as a "one-person crime spree."

Harrison's stiff sentence was a pleasant surprise for Ivens, who specializes in financial crimes.

"This is a big win for the citizens of Jackson County," Ivens said. "Normally when we get a 13-month sanction against a financial criminal we are happy."

Harrison utilized methods such as stealing from cars and mailboxes to obtain her victims' sensitive information such as their Social Security and bank account numbers.

In 2006, Medford police tracked Harrison to a fraudulent account of a Jackson County resident who reported having his checking account hijacked. She also was linked to an online PayPal account opened by the same victim.

Medford detectives were able to obtain records showing that purchases made under the account were delivered to a Portland address, which they soon linked to Harrison. Detectives seized a computer at the Portland residence, which led them to a home on North Ivy Street in Medford where she was staying, Ivens said.

One notable crime committed by Harrison was the theft of college loan application paperwork out of a car in Ashland. The information was used to open a credit account in the victim's name, which affected his financial status. The man was in Ashland seeking to apply to Southern Oregon University.

Harrison's conviction just happened to fall on the day before the Southern Oregon Financial Fraud and Security Team celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George credits SOFFAST, a collection of banking and credit union officials who work closely with police during financial crime investigations, for helping gather evidence needed to convict large-scale financial criminals such as Harrison.

"Before SOFFAST it was very difficult to deal with banks and other institutions," George said. "We needed to subpoena every piece of information we needed. It took a lot of time."

Medford Detective Sue Campbell was instrumental in pulling in various banks, credit unions, detectives from multiple agencies and district attorney's office officials into the task force.

The team meets monthly at the Rogue Federal Credit Union in Medford to keep up on the latest news in financial crimes and to share information with each other about how to protect themselves and their customers from fraud, George said.

"Because financial investigations are so complex and affect a variety of people and institutions, it's nice for us to be on the same page," George said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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