Texas woman charged with stealing Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta's identity to buy furniture

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta leaves the court after the game against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center on March 15, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was alerted someone used his personal information to open a line of credit. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

A Texas woman allegedly used Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s social security number to open a new line of credit and the ensuing investigation has uncovered at least a dozen other potential victims, including Walmart heir Alice Walton, Harris County (Texas) Precinct One Constable investigators said.

Stephanie Hunter, 27, is charged with felony offenses of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information and making a false statement to obtain credit, investigators said. She admitted to using Fertitta’s information, police said.

Fertitta, who bought the Rockets in 2017 for $2.2 billion, was notified by identity theft prevention company Lifelock that someone used his information to open a “suspicious line of credit” at Capital One Bank, police said. He filed a complaint.

Police found Hunter opened a $15,000 line of credit at the bank and a $5,000 line of credit at Conn’s Home Plus in late 2019, per KHOU. When she filled out the paperwork, she used Fertitta’s name and social security number with a fake Gmail address that had Fertitta’s name, per KHOU. But she used her own address and phone number, enabling investigators to find her.

Police said Hunter waived her rights and admitted to buying the personal information on the dark web. Police said she told them she didn’t purchase anything, but did try to buy furniture.

Hunter, now out on bond, is accused of stealing identities of at least a dozen others victims, including Walton, police said. She’s expected to face additional charges.

“Identity theft is so prevalent,” Harris County Constable Alan Rosen said. “This case should serve as a warning to everyone that they should take steps to protect their good name and credit.”

Fertitta, the chairman and CEO of restaurant and entertainment company Landry’s, is worth approximately $4.8 billion, per Forbes.

Walton, 70, is worth $51 billion, per Forbes. She resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

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