They lead what can be unthinkably glamorous lifestyles. Sometimes, though, celebrities are just like the rest of us, and they attract identity thieves, too.
You might assume that a healthy bank account and widespread name recognition would keep celebrities from becoming another identity theft statistic, but that’s not the case. Here are some high-profile celebrity identity theft incidents that prove even famous people aren’t immune:
Robert De Niro & Candice Bergen
A growing area of identity theft involves stealing that’s done by someone who knows the victim, including friends and family members. This type of identity theft is often called “Familiar Fraud.” For Robert De Niro and Candice Bergen, it was their housekeeper who proved to be the culprit. After taking credit cards and going on a spending spree, the maid was caught and then admitted she’d also stolen a child’s Social Security number to obtain residency status.
Although identity theft can feel personal when it happens, thieves often specialize in multiple hacks on numerous people. That was the situation when thief Carlos Lomax, who was on probation for committing identity theft against then NBA basketball player Steve Smith, decided to impersonate movie star Will Smith. Using the actor’s information, he opened 14 credit accounts at Pittsburgh-area stores.
Cher, Melanie Griffith, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Aniston, & Liv Tyler
Can chatting with a beautician turn into celebrity identity theft? Quite easily, apparently. Beverly Hills salon owner Maria Gabriela Perez used personal details and credit card information she obtained from numerous celebrity clients to perpetrate identity theft, eventually netting her hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her victims included Liv Tyler, Cher, Anne Hathaway, Melanie Griffith and Jennifer Aniston.
Oprah, Martha Stewart, & Steven Spielberg
Although many details about celebrities are private, some get published, and identity thieves make the most of those opportunities. When Forbes Magazine released a list of the richest people in the United States, busboy Abraham Abdallah began using the information to convince banks and brokerage firms to authorize purchases from the accounts of Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and Steven Spielberg, among others. In the end, he nearly got away with $80 million.
It doesn’t matter if you’re living in Hollywood, Calif., or Hollywood, Fla. — the effects of identity theft can be devastating to anyone. When it comes to identity theft, no one is 100% immune so celebrity or not, be sure to regularly change your passwords, always review your credit reports and keep acting like an anti-theft superstar.