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What Happened in Vegas...

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If the check bounces, the casino makes a number of collection attempts, and if that doesn't work, the case is referred to authorities.

Records show that on January 15, 2003, Zadrowski's office contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety and put a warrant out for Maynard's arrest. Six months later, on June 20, officers from DPS and Phoenix police went to a Phoenix apartment, picked Maynard up and took him to a Maricopa County Jail unit.

It was Maynard's second time behind bars. DPS records show he was stopped for speeding on Arizona Highway 68 near Bullhead City in 1991 and taken to jail in Mohave County because of an unpaid speeding ticket.

Faced with untold numbers of gamblers who fail to pay their markers, the Clark County D.A.'s office long ago created a diversion program that gives deadbeats a second chance to pay up rather than face criminal charges. Once Maynard finally coughed up the 16 grand, Nevada dropped its criminal case against him.

Because Las Vegas is one of the identity-theft capitals of the world — right up there with the Phoenix metro area — Clark County provides a "forgery packet" to anyone claiming to be a victim. A claim like Maynard's would have been investigated thoroughly, Zadrowski maintains.

"Not once did anybody ever suggest, in this particular case, that this was a case of stolen identity," he says.

Maynard never filed a police report for identity theft, or it would be part of the D.A.'s office file, Zadrowski says.

"The only call we received while he was in jail was from his girlfriend. She wanted to know how to get him out of jail," he says.

Zadrowski pulled the Arizona driver's license submitted to the casino by the person who took out the loan and e-mailed a copy to New Times.

Although the resolution quality is poor, the man in the picture looks like Maynard. Zadrowski says the man pictured is Maynard.

Maynard's girlfriend at the time, Valley resident Betsey Griffin, is listed on Maynard's 2005 bankruptcy report as being owed $10,000. Reached by phone, she says she had nothing to do with getting Maynard out of jail and did not pay the $16,000 for him.

"Because he owed me money, I wasn't going to give him any money to get him out of jail," she says. "So it didn't come from me." (Maynard later paid back the $10,000 with interest, she says.)

Confronted with Zadrowski's side of the story, Todd Davis registers no obvious surprise.

"Is that what you think you have?" he says. "Okay, I hear what you're telling me."

Davis then goes into defense mode, saying that although the story is, indeed, the inspiration for the company, "we don't use that story. That's nowhere on our Web site. That's not part of our messaging. We don't use it in any of our, quote, advertising."

He says that he, Maynard and Prusinski — who's also on record telling the tale — simply respond to reporters' questions about how the company got started.

As of May, LifeLock still had at least one link on its Web site that introduces Maynard's victim story — a WCPO-TV news broadcast from Cincinnati. (The station took the video down, but still has a transcript on one of its sites.)

Call it advertising or public relations, Maynard's tale certainly has made the rounds. Another TV station in Baltimore reported it as fact. Internet sites like www.eweek.com and www.scambusters.com also fell for it.

Newspapers in the Valley were no different.

In a 2005 Business Journal of Phoenix article by Adam Kress, Maynard spiced up his story by adding that police officers assumed he was a murderer they had been seeking. An East Valley Tribune business article by Edward Gately says Maynard claimed to have been victimized in 1998, as does an Arizona Business Gazette article by Maggie Galehouse. A quick call to either the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office or Clark County D.A.'s office would have turned up evidence of the actual arrest date.

The amount Maynard lost dropped from $20,000 to $3,000 in an Arizona Republic article last summer by Luci Scott. That discrepancy could have been caught by looking up previously published articles.

Other stories, which don't include the jail yarn, appeared in various editions of the Republic in August and December 2006, and in May 2007.

Newspapers all over the country have written about LifeLock, and the company has a decent Web presence. Punching the name in Google returns 202,000 results, partly because the company pays bloggers who help sell its services.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.