Those pesky telemarketing calls may be more than just a nuisance. Whistleblowers claim one Phoenix company is giving ex-cons access to your personal information.
"A lot of the team members are convicted felons," said Audrey Groteboer, who worked for Phoenix-based Capitol Processing Network, a credit card processing company located in an unmarked building at CityNorth, an upscale north Phoenix retail and residential development near Desert Ridge Marketplace.
"It was a very scary place to work," said another former employee who asked not to be identified because of fear of retaliation. "We are talking about people who have committed manslaughter, assault, third-degree burglary, identity theft."
Both whistleblowers said the employees have access to confidential information: Social Security numbers, bank information and credit card statements.
"You have to send in a voided check with your application," explained one whistleblower. "Those files are sitting on desks that sit right next to the analysts. There's no wall, there's no office."
CBS 5 Investigates obtained a recent Capital Processing employee roster. Searching only Arizona court records, 18 of the 83 employees - or roughly 20 percent of its Phoenix staff - have criminal histories. This does not include crimes that could have been committed in other states.
These include people who served time in prison for forgery, identity theft and fraud.
One of Capital Processing Network's top managers, Josh Cobleigh, is a former criminal.
"When I heard that, I thought that is the last job Josh should be involved in," said Cobleigh's former business partner, who asked not to be identified.
Court records show Cobleigh was arrested in 2002 and convicted for embezzling thousands of dollars from his former business partner.
"I would say a total of $80,000 he stole through (credit cards) and cash," his partner said. "He had actually been embezzling money the entire time. Then I found out he set up credit cards in my name using my Social Security because he had access to all my information."
CBS 5 Investigates tried to sit down with Capital Processing Network CEO Jeff Stephan to talk about his employees, but he refused.
"There's currently litigation going on," he told CBS 5 Investigates. "It's a very sad situation for everyone. Our legal counsel has instructed us to have no comment on it and things will be played out in court where they need to be played out."
CBS 5 Investigates found a number of unsatisfied customers. Their complaints come from all over the United States and have reached the Better Business Bureau and other consumer complaint sites.
"Over the lifetime of fighting with them, they ended up with over 700-some dollars out of (our) bank account," said Rene Jenson, who owns a small pool company in Deltona, FL, with her husband, Gary.
They said they were dissatisfied with CPN's service, but are now more concerned that their personal information might have been exposed.
"We weren't told a thing," said Rene Jenson.
There have been no reported cases of identity theft involving Capital Processing, according to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
Telemarketing companies like CPN are virtually unregulated.
"It's a very tough business to prosecute," said Arizona Assistant Attorney General Todd Larson.
Which means that the telemarketer on the other end of the phone, asking for your personal information, can have a criminal past and you may never know it.
"As a business owner, there's no way I would ever hire a felon," said Cobleigh's former business partner. "I think any criminal person like that is always looking for that easy way out."
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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