October 18, 2016

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4 Scary (and Real) Identity Theft Stories

With Halloween coming up, you’ve probably had a few good scares already. Maybe a co-worker left a far too realistic-looking plastic spider on your desk, or the motion-activated spooky decorations on your neighbor’s lawn made you jump out of your skin a few nights ago. Yes, you were scared for a few moments — but you were able to laugh about it immediately after reality set in. Unfortunately, there are certain incidents — like identity theft — that don’t leave the victim smiling once they’ve realized what happened. We preach the importance of identity protection every single day, but for this blog post, we’re letting these scary and real identity theft stories do the talking.

Passport theft connects Australian woman to murder plot

An Australian woman, Nicole McCabe, was 6-months pregnant and living in Israel when she found out she was wanted for murder. She was listening to the radio and a news bulletin proclaimed that three Australians were being linked to a Dubai hit squad, Mossad, that was responsible for assassinating Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh; her name was one of those read by the announcer.

It turns out that Nicole, along with the other two Australians, had their identities stolen. She was still in possession of her real passport, but the thieves used her personal information to create a new fake passport. Luckily, the fake passport did not have her picture on it — it was the thief’s photo — so the theft of her identity was a bit more obvious.

Meth addict house guest steals retiree’s life

When retired nurse Helen Anderson flew to visit her sick daughter, she let her niece Samantha housesit. She was, however, adamant that no friends were allowed over. When Helen returned home, she found Samantha in the house with her friend, Alice Lipski. Helen asked Alice to leave, but didn’t think anything of it.

It turns out that Alice was an expert identity thief and meth addict. After stealing mail and receipts from Helen’s home, she completely took over Helen’s identity, withdrawing money from existing bank accounts and opening new credit cards. She even signed up for a credit monitoring service so she could view Helen’s entire credit history. Alice reported every inactive card on Helen’s credit history as lost or stolen so she could get new cards, usernames, and passwords — locking Helen out of her own accounts. All of Helen’s mail was sent to Alice’s house.

She was finally caught after forgetting her purse at Macy’s, and charged with ten counts of identity theft; her and her friends had stolen nearly $1 million using the information of other people.

After mother’s passing, identity theft victim learns the truth

When Axton Betz-Hamilton learned her identity had been stolen, she had no clue who was responsible. Her parents had been victims of identity theft 20 years earlier, so she just assumed that whoever had stolen their identities had also stolen hers when she was a child. The truth came out, though, when her mother passed away.

Axton’s father found an old file box with a 12-year-old credit card statement in his daughter’s name. The card, however, had been issued in his wife’s name. Axton and her dad began going through all of her mom’s old belongings and they found a paper trail that revealed over 20 years of fraud. Her mom had stolen her identity, her father’s identity, and compromised her grandfather for about $1,500. They have no idea how much deeper the theft went, but most people never expect to be robbed by their own parents. Unfortunately, identity theft stories like this one aren’t all that uncommon.

IRS employee steals identities and commits tax fraud

Nakeisha Hall spent most of her career with the IRS working in Taxpayer Advocate Services, helping individuals who had been victims of tax fraud. In reality, she was actually stealing their identities from right under their noses. From 2008 until 2011, she used IRS computers to get access to names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers. She used the stolen information to submit fraudulent tax returns and requested the refunds on debit cards.

Overall, Nakeisha stole more than $400,000 — though that’s pocket change compared to the more than $1 million she tried to steal. She was ultimately convicted for her crimes and sentenced to nine years in federal prison.

Scared by these real identity theft stories? Identity theft happens to thousands of people around the world every single day. Learn more about receiving identity protection and restoration services from IdentityForce — it’s one of the smartest ways to help keep your identity safe from prying eyes.

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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