May 20, 2015

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The Strangest Identity Theft Stories We’ve Heard

Identity theft stories keep getting weirder. Identity thieves can be insidious, using your personal information to steal financial data, posing as you to file fraudulent tax returns, getting medical care under your name and even “borrowing” your kids’ names to open new accounts.

Just when we think we’ve heard it all, we find out about thieves who take identity theft to a new level. Check out these strange identity theft stories …

The Cheerleading Mom

Most identity thieves take on personas based on strangers, but one woman decided to live out her lifelong dreams by impersonating her daughter. At age 33, Wendy Brown was so heartbroken over never being a cheerleader that she enrolled in high school under her daughter’s name and joined the cheer squad. She wasn’t caught until the check for her cheerleading uniform bounced.

The Meth Addict Who’d Never Taken Drugs

Mother of four Anndorie Sachs got a call from Child Protective Services (CPS) claiming she was under investigation because her newborn tested positive for methamphetamines. Not only had Sachs never touched drugs, but her youngest child was a toddler. After intense scrutiny by CPS and threats to put her children in foster care, it turned out that a recent break-in to Sachs’ car was the source of the identity theft case. A pregnant meth addict stole her license and used it when giving birth.

The Polygamous Bride

With everything that goes into wedding preparation, filing an application for a marriage license tends to be a minor concern. When Rosa Vargas had her application rejected, however, she discovered she was already married — to four other men. Using her birth certificate, which Vargas had lost 16 years before, the “grooms” arranged the marriages as part of an immigration scam. Although she managed to untangle the deception to some degree, five years after her wedding, one of her “husbands” served her with divorce papers.

The Doctor Who Wasn’t

Former pharmacist Gerald Barnbaum had his license revoked for fraud, but still felt the lure of medical practice. So he legally changed his last name to Barnes to impersonate a California doctor with that name and worked as a physician for three years. Sadly, his negligence led to a patient’s death, which sparked an investigation that uncovered the deception.

The Unlicensed Pilot

Perhaps the most classic example of impersonation was when 16-year-old Frank Abagnale created a fake airline ID and went on to become such an artful con man that he inspired the movie Catch Me If You Can.

While all of these identity theft cases would make similarly compelling films, you wouldn’t want to be the one providing the source material. Be sure to employ strong anti-theft protections, like checking your credit reports, using strong passwords, and being suspicious of email and phone scams. Identity theft stories like these are fun to read about, but terrible to experience.

Have a strange story you want us to write about? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jon S.

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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