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Press Release

Career fraudster and identity thief sentenced to five years in federal prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana


Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today the sentencing of a life-long perpetrator of fraud and identity theft schemes. Catherine A. Demaree, 65, was sentenced to 61 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt after pleading guilty to charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

“For decades, Catherine Demaree wreaked havoc on Hoosiers’ financial lives,” said Minkler. “Identity theft is a particularly insidious crime, as it devastates people’s credit, which often takes years to repair. This Office will prosecute such crimes to the fullest extent of the law, particularly recidivists like Demaree. Today, her streak of fraud and identity theft comes to an end.”

Demaree’s criminal record began in 1978. Since then, she has been convicted 22 times, most of them felonies and most of them for fraud, forgery, and identity theft. For nearly 40 years, in multiple states and throughout Indiana, she has stolen people’s identities and checkbooks, applied for credit cards and loans in their names, and run up bills for her own personal purchases before being caught. In addition to the identities she stole, she has used over 30 aliases and a dozen false dates of birth and social security numbers throughout her life to conceal her own identity.

In this case, she was caught using Social Security numbers and other identifying information from over 20 individuals throughout southern Indiana. She used their information to apply for bank loans and over 100 credit cards, which she used to make cash withdrawals and personal purchases, such as groceries, gas, phone bills, rental cars, hotel rooms, pizza delivery, and weekly trips to the nail salon.

fact that she had a personal relationship with many of the victims did not deter her. She exploited that relationship to gain access to their personal information, something she had done in her prior offenses as well. Her victims in this case included her next-door neighbors, the owner of a tanning salon where she tanned, and a friend who took Demaree in after Demaree lied and told her that she was being abused by an estranged husband. In fact, Demaree had been arrested by local police for fraud and forgery and had just bonded out of jail. When the friend realized Demaree’s lie, she confronted her. Demaree fled, stealing credit cards and checkbooks belonging to her friend and her friend’s husband and sister.

Ultimately, Demaree made her way to Urbana, Missouri, where she approached an elderly woman who had advertised online for a companion and home health assistance. Demaree spent about a week with the Missouri woman before running off with her checkbook and personal information. Demaree was arrested in Kansas shortly thereafter with the Missouri woman’s checkbook, Social Security card, and Medicare card, along with similar documents for many of the Indiana victims.

Under federal law, Demaree will serve at least 52 months of her 61-month sentence – by far the longest sentence she has received to date.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case for the government, Demaree will be closely supervised for 3 years following her prison time.


Updated July 24, 2017