What Happened in Vegas...

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The story could not be verified, because Maynard has refused to be interviewed by New Times.

Again, Maynard denied wrongdoing. But the federal government was so ticked off, it issued a permanent injunction that bans Maynard from "advertising, promoting, offering for sale, selling, performing, or distributing any product or service relating to credit improvement services."

Yet such a service is offered by LifeLock, where founder Maynard works as the chief marketing officer. (He was formerly the chief operating officer).

LifeLock helps customers who fall victim to identity theft repair damaged credit histories. So, the question is: Does Maynard's position at LifeLock violate the court order?

When his partner, Davis, is asked about this, he says the company outsources its credit-repair service. Besides, he says, the company has a written opinion from its attorney that Maynard is legally allowed to work for LifeLock.

After National Credit Foundation's fall, Maynard moved to Dallas and started Internet America. By early 1996, that firm was backed by investors and had 25,000 customers, according to an article that year in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The newspaper article describes Maynard as a financial whiz kid who adheres to the utmost standards of professionalism.

"That's how we go out and get a $250,000 line of credit somewhere," Maynard was quoted as saying.

Two years later, a Dallas Business Journal article reported that Maynard resigned from Internet America after finally settling with the FTC in the credit-repair case.

Maynard came back to Phoenix in 1999 and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new company he founded, Dotsafe, which offered Internet-filtering services for schools.

Around the same time, someone ordered an American Express card in Maynard Sr.'s name and had the bills sent to a company called Netshield at 8181 South 48th Street, Suite 120, in Phoenix. That was Dotsafe's address.

Court and bankruptcy records suggest that Maynard Jr. obtained the card without his father's consent.

Dr. Maynard, while not giving up all the details because of the open case with American Express, says the "premise" that his son fraudulently ordered the card is accurate.

He adds that he has advice for any new parent: Don't name your kid after yourself.

Even as Dotsafe imploded, Maynard Jr. borrowed heavily and "his living style never went down," his father says.

At one point, Maynard Jr. owed more than $1 million in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Court records reveal lawsuits from a slew of creditors related to Dotsafe. His 2005 personal Chapter 7 bankruptcy lists debts to friends, business partners, credit card companies, the Phoenix Library — even $24,000 to his children's private school, Summit School of Ahwatukee.

Yet, these days, Maynard is back in black — or close, anyway.

LifeLock's expanding and even became a finalist for this year's national Stevie Awards for best new company and best new product or service. Davis is a finalist for best executive.

Dr. Maynard, who acknowledges that his relationship with his son isn't "normal," says he is pessimistic about his son's future — regardless of his current success.

"I don't think Robert will ever not have the ups and downs," Maynard Sr. says. "Mostly, veracity is a problem."

One thing Maynard Sr. finds "mind-boggling" is why his son has repeated the bogus victim story so often because it was bound to be exposed, and LifeLock might have been just fine without it.

"Nobody has any idea [why he did that]," Maynard Sr. says, adding that a real identity-theft victim could have been found to promote the company. "I think Robert has told the story enough that he thinks it's true."

Journalists and other members of the public probably shouldn't be judged too harshly for believing Maynard's tale. There is no doubt that identity theft has left some victims ravaged, and legitimate horror stories are presented often by credible sources.

Andrea Esquer of the Arizona Attorney General's Office recalls going to a meeting recently with Phoenix College staff who had been victimized by a dumpster-diving mail thief.

"There were at least four or five victims in the audience who are still trying to clear their name from the mess this guy made," Esquer says. "They were devastated. They were very angry."

On the other hand, identity theft shouldn't be cause for hysteria. Yes, the crime can be horrendous, and we all need to be aware of it. But for most victims, it's really not that bad.

Much of the hype stems from confusion over government definitions of identity theft. For instance, two-thirds of the $50 billion in losses nationally comes from credit card misuse: Someone steals your credit card or credit card number and makes charges without your knowledge.

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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.