Though most people don’t know the name John Duns Scotus, there’s actually a day in his honor (if you can call it that): National Dunce Day, which falls on Nov. 8. In celebration of the inane, here are some of the craziest identity theft stories we’ve heard — and we think if Scotus were alive today, even he would agree.
Earning His Nickname
Often called “The Chameleon” by media and police, Frédéric Bourdin is a French serial impostor who began stealing identities when he was just a child. In one of the strangest cases, he claimed to be Nicolas Barclay, a teenager who’d been missing from Texas for three years before Bourdin’s assertion.
Even though Bourdin had different colored eyes than the missing teenager — not to mention a French accent — Barclay’s family took him in eagerly. It was five months before a local private investigator got suspicious, confirming his doubts through a DNA test. When Bourdin got out of jail for that crime, he flew back to Europe and continued passing himself off as missing teens in France and Spain. He claims to have taken on as many as 40 false identities over his career.
When Lara Love and David Jackson moved into a close-knit California community, their new neighbors welcomed them warmly. But Love and Jackson didn’t return the favor.
While pretending to be friendly, and sometimes even attending neighborhood events, they hacked Internet connections to create fake shopping accounts, stole mail like credit card offers and lifted wallets out of cars parked near their kids’ school. Before getting caught, they’d used the personal information of 30 different neighbors for identity theft, highlighting the dangers of familiar fraud.
Lifting a Whole Life
Many identity thieves steal for financial gain with tactics like opening credit cards in someone else’s name or draining a bank account by using fraudulent documents. But when Candida Gutierrez got hit by identity theft, the thief tried to steal her entire life — and then claimed it was Gutierrez who was the thief.
The crook used Gutierrez’s identity to open credit and bank accounts, obtain a mortgage, pay for medical care for the birth of two children and get a job as a U.S. citizen even though she was living in the country illegally. When both women sought to get a new Social Security number, the agency instead sent Gutierrez’s to her imposter (who, fortunately, was eventually arrested).
While serving on a jury and hearing a case centered around credit card theft and impersonation, Jennifer Mercado must have picked up a few tips. She stole a fellow juror’s wallet, and then proceeded to use the stolen credit card on lunch breaks. When she kept returning with shopping bags from stores that were corresponding with erroneous charges on the victimized juror’s accounts, Mercado was arrested in the middle of the trial.
Don’t Let It Happen to You
Although these identity theft stories are uncommon, keep in mind that these Scotus types can strike anytime. Be sure to protect yourself on social media, in financial transactions and through anti-theft tactics. After all, you shouldn’t let a dunce ruin your day — or your life.
Image courtesy of Flickr user sinisterbluebox.