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'My jaw dropped:' Fond du Lac businessman, allegedly stole $41,000 from associate

Posted at 6:51 PM, May 16, 2024

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — A Fond du Lac woman claims her former boss and business partner stole tens of thousands of dollars from her through identity theft.

That man, business owner and former candidate for state assembly Lawrence Foster is now charged with five felonies related to identity theft.

  • Foster is charged with five felonies related to identity theft.
  • Prosecutors say he used the identities of business associates to open lines of credit.
  • One victim says he stole tens of thousands from her.

Roxanne abler is a marketing coordinator and owns a photography business on the side.

She said she met Foster in 2022. They worked in the same building and became friends.

"We were both part of the small business community in Fond du Lac," Abler said.

Foster has owned several businesses in Fond du Lac, ran for city council in 2020, and ran for state representative in 2022.

I even reported on both Foster and Abler for a small business story that year.

In the spring of 2023, he hired her at his website business and soon after proposed starting their own separate photography and videography business with a third person.

"It all seemed like a good idea because he seemed like he was very good at business," Abler said. "He even had said to us that he's helped several friends start businesses before and he kind of claimed to be this business expert."

Prosecutors now accuse him of stealing tens of thousands from Abler, and stealing the identity of their other business partner and a local nonprofit.

Abler said she lost the most. She said he had her personal information like her social security number and date of birth from forms she filled out as his employee. After partnering with Foster, she said he stole her identity to take out lines of credit without her consent.

She said Foster told her and their other business partner that it would be a "good idea" to take out lines of credit for the LLC. She said they acknowledged that, but assumed he'd take out the credit in his own name. Abler said he told them he'd made the accounts, but they trusted he made the accounts in his own name.

When she called the credit card companies two months later, she found a combined $25,000 charged to two separate accounts in which she, not Foster, was listed as the primary account holder. That means she's responsible for footing the bill.

When reviewing the charges, Abler said they were all cash advances to Foster's other businesses and other expenses not related to their joint LLC. Abler said she still does not know where the money went after Foster sent it to his other business.

"My jaw dropped," Abler said.

Abler said the maxed out cards in her name brought her credit score down by almost 200 points.

Meanwhile, Abler was employed full-time by Foster in his web development business, but she said she never saw a paycheck for more than two months.

Foster also asked Abler for a temporary loan that spring, promising to pay it back in a week. She said she lent him $6,000, but was never repaid.

That brings the total losses for Abler to more than $41,000.

Court records show Abler sued Foster in small claims court for the lost wages and loan, but she said she's only recovered about $1,700 of the $16,000.

As for the credit debt, Abler said she was able to report it for fraud and eventually get it cleared with the credit card companies.

I asked Abler if she thinks she missed any red flags during the months during which she was in business with Foster.

"Yes, there definitely were," Abler said. "He was very good at kind of having an answer for everything, almost as if it were rehearsed."

Abler said she reported the incident to police, and Foster was later charged with several felonies related to identity theft.

"I felt like somebody that I trusted had completely taken advantage of me," Abler said.

According to the criminal complaint, Foster and his attorney provided police with screenshots of text messages, showing Abler authorized him to use a business credit card.

Abler contends she never authorized Foster to use a card in her name, only business cards in his own name.

I tried calling Foster to ask what happened, but I haven't heard back. I also visited his home, but no response there either.

Foster is scheduled to appear in court later this month for his initial appearance on the charges.