DALLAS — In the meeting room of a darkened restaurant, Velma Hart is selling the next new thing to fight identity theft.
She tells a collection of potential investors this is a widespread problem. “If you got five people in your house, one of you has been affected directly by identity theft,” Hart said.
Many will find her name and face familiar; it’s an image that once went viral.
Back in September, Hart challenged President Obama at a televised town meeting, saying that defending him left her exhausted.
“I’m deeply disappointed where we are right now," she said. "Defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for.”
Hart has since landed a gig on CNBC. And now, she's hitching her star to Ray de Beasley and his new invention.
"If you get on this system and say you are someone else and try to steal their identity, you're going to jai," he told potential investors.
De Beasley knows all too well about jail; that’s where he was when he came up with this idea.
“I used to be an identity theft master,” he admitted.
While in prison, he field-tested his security idea on hundreds of real experts in ID fraud.
“If you can beat this — I told many convicts — I will eat the whole paper. If you can beat it I’ll eat it," he said, adding: "I haven’t ate it.”
Experts have told de Beasley the idea looks good, but his company — BSecurity Systems — has had trouble attracting the cash needed to build the prototype to prove it.
Finding investors is Hart's job.
“If we bring this product to market, we'll change lives in a good way,” she predicts.
Hart, an East Texas native, will be in North Texas for another week, trying to raise funds. If she's successful, it’s just the first step in building a system that could protect Social Security numbers and all the IDs that use them.