South Medford graduate once again becomes a victim of identity theft

Aram Hampson insisted he was Wise ' but police say that's simply untrue.

Arrested Monday on drug charges following a non-injury traffic accident in west Medford, Hampson allegedly told an investigating police officer his name was Cordon Wise. He rattled off additional personal information about Wise and was taken to jail after convincing the officer of his false identity, police said.

Hampson spent the night in a Jackson County Jail cell and was released Tuesday morning on his own recognizance, with jail staff still believing he was Wise.

About that same time, Ruch resident Susan Wise received a telephone call from her daughter, who informed her of a report in that morning's stating Cordon Wise had been jailed on charges of manufacturing, delivering and possessing methamphetamine.

It was a total shock, Susan Wise said. But I knew it wasn't true.
— The skeptical and stunned woman immediately phoned her son, a 27-year-old South Medford High School graduate who operates a nursery near Cave Junction. Cordon Wise was initially confused by the information provided by his mother.

Then it clicked.

My sister's ex-boyfriend stole my identification five or six years ago, he said. I thought this was all behind me. When this started again, I couldn't believe it.

It's really hard to know how to process this. Everyone I've known my whole life read that article, and it looks really bad. I'm just completely freaked about what they think of me.

Medford police Lt. Mike Moran said the incident is a classic worst-case scenario of identity theft. After confirming Hampson's true identity from fingerprints collected Monday at the jail, police are now seeking to arrest Hampson, 32, on charges of identity theft and providing false information to an officer.

Moran said he's seen similar cases in the past, but they usually involve individuals posing as other family members.

This is a little bit different, he said.

Cordon Wise said this week's fiasco is not the first time Hampson has pretended to be him after running afoul of the law. In 2000, Wise was hauled into court on a Josephine County warrant alleging he failed to appear on a misdemeanor theft charge. Court records show the warrant was recalled and the charge dismissed in the interest of justice, as (Wise's) identification establishes he did not commit this offense. Josephine County officials never transferred the charge to anyone else, according to court records.

About two years ago, Wise said Hampson phoned him to apologize for the Josephine County court mess.

He said he was sorry for stealing my identification, Wise recalled. I hope he realizes that he's caused me a huge amount of problems.

Wise said he believes Hampson stole personal information from him during the time he dated his sister.

Hampson allegedly relied on that knowledge Monday when Medford police officer Jason Becker contacted him at the scene of a car crash.

At about 3:15 p.m., Becker responded to West McAndrews Road near Sweet Road after Hampson pulled out of a driveway without stopping and crashed into another vehicle, Moran said.

Hampson had slurred speech and seemed confused during questioning, leading Becker to investigate the possibility of alcohol or drug involvement, Moran said.

After obtaining consent to search a fanny pack located in Hampson's vehicle, Becker found baggies and scales with residue that later was confirmed to be methamphetamine, Moran said.

Hampson identified himself to Becker as Cordon Wise, claiming that his wallet and driver's license had been stolen. Becker conducted an electronic check of drivers' records and located a photograph of Wise, Moran said.

Because Hampson knew detailed information about Wise and shares some physical characteristics with the Cave Junction man, Moran said Becker believed the suspect's story.

(Hampson) had everything down, Moran said. The officer felt the ravages of meth use was an explanation for some physical differences between Hampson and Wise.

Hampson was arrested while his wife, Miranda Hampson, was cited on drug charges and released. A 4-year-old child traveling with the couple was taken into protective custody, Moran said.

The fact that Wise's friends and family read his name in Tuesday's newspaper might have been a blessing in disguise. Moran said that if Wise was unaware of Hampson's arrest and got stopped by police, an officer could reasonably conclude Wise was the person charged with the methamphetamine offenses. If Wise was stopped after a judge issued a warrant for his failure to appear in court on the drug charges, he could be wrongfully arrested, Moran said.

While Hampson has not caused any credit woes for Wise, he did rack up hundreds of dollars in charges from local video stores while using the false identity, Wise said.

The stores sorted it out and dropped the charges after I explained, he said. They were understanding.

Hampson, who won a state cross country championship in 1990 while attending Rogue River High School, has a long criminal record dating back to 1992, when he was convicted of felony LSD possession. Since then, he has pleaded guilty in Jackson County courts to felony charges of credit-card fraud, heroin possession, first-degree theft and second-degree burglary.

He had a lot going for himself at one point, said Wise, who has no criminal record. I guess he made some real bad decisions.

It's my life"