HOUSTON – It can be one of the most difficult times in a person's life: getting a divorce. But investigators say one woman made it even worse for several couples by pretending to be a divorce lawyer and handling their cases.
"She spoke like she knew what she was talking about," said victim Tony.
He said there were no red flags when he paid Brittany Phillips to handle his divorce paperwork. His girlfriend found Brittany's Legal Services on Facebook and thought Phillips was the real deal, until she called the District Clerk and discovered the necessary documents were never filed with the courts.
"We know that Brittany was never a licensed attorney," said Deputy J. Nowitz, with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Tony is not alone. Harris County Sheriff's investigators know of three victims and believe there may be dozens more. They say in one instance Phillips promised to file a restraining order for a client, but never followed through.
"We have no evidence that she ever walked into a court to represent these people that she was paid to represent," Nowitz said.
Police said Phillips didn't work out of an office and she would often conduct business at different locations such as Starbucks. She's even been known to meet her clients at gas stations to collect payments.
For Tony, who is out over $300, it was like pouring salt on an open wound.
"She knows what she's doing defrauding people, but she's going to keep taking and taking until someone stops her," Tony said.
What's more, investigators said they now have evidence that Phillips was committing identity theft against those who hired her to do their legal filings and urge anyone who had business dealings with her to check their credit report.
"I would like to see her arrested and put away," Tony said.
Phillips also goes by the name Brittany Cruz or Brittany Batista.
Tony's girlfriend filed a complaint with the Houston Better Business Bureau, which gave Brittany's Legal Services an "F" rating.