The Weird and Wild World of Identity Fraud

If you pay attention to identity fraud and cybercrime, you’ll see near-daily headlines covering everything from data breaches of big businesses to increasing numbers of fraud cases affecting everyday people. If you dig a little deeper, and you might encounter articles that make you shake your head at how wild the state of things actually are. Criminals have no limits regarding how or where they’ll attempt to swindle someone out of personal information and other valuable data.  

Here’s a look at some of the weirdest examples of cybercrime that demonstrate just how random and off-the-wall such instances can be. While the cases below are not necessarily common or widespread, take them as a reminder that identity theft is possible in more ways than most of us are aware of.

The 17-Year Case of Identity Theft

Most people will deal with fraud at some point in their life. It could be as simple as a stolen credit card number or a more complex scheme that takes a while to remedy. But one unlucky Florida man spent nearly 17 years dealing with a case of identity theft

Larry Smith is the victim in this case, and his ordeal began when a habitual criminal named Joseph Kidd stole Smith’s identity in the 1990s. Kidd was arrested and used Smith’s name as an alias. From there, Kidd was also able to get a driver’s license and birth certificate as Larry Smith. 

The real Smith was arrested in 2006 and spent eight days in jail for crimes he never committed. He also received a $300,000 bill from Medicare for benefits that the imposter ran up using his name. Smith had no idea that his identity was being used at first but began to get suspicious when he didn’t receive the 2004 income tax refund that he was due. Things snowballed out of control until 2010, when perpetrator Joseph Kidd was again arrested, but this time his fake identity was uncovered. 

Impersonating an Actress – and Almost Getting Away with It

Typically, thieves use the stolen identities of everyday people. But that wasn’t the case with a Los Angeles man who successfully stole a credit card intended for actress Demi Moore. David Matthew Read created a fake badge and somehow talked his way into taking possession of Moore’s Amex Black Card from a FedEx facility by claiming to be her personal assistant. 

Perpetrator Read and an accomplice then used the card to rack up nearly $170,000 in charges on a shopping spree of top-name retailers around L.A. Eventually, the scheme was foiled, and the fraudsters were caught, and Read received a six-year sentence for his role as worst supporting actress. It takes some bravado to shop using a stolen card but using one with a famous person’s name on it is something else entirely. 

IRS Employee Gone Bad

Nakeisha Hall, a former IRS employee, was sentenced to over nine years in prison for abusing her access to taxpayer information. Hall was involved in a complex scam involving hundreds of different victims and attempted to get away with nearly $1 million in income tax refund money. 

Hall worked for the IRS for over 15 years and used her clout and access to sensitive data for personal profit. She was a part of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, a section that helped taxpayers who were having difficulties with the agency. But rather than being the advocate she was supposed to be, she instead used her position to steal personal information and file false returns. 

We all get frustrated with the IRS from time to time, but can you imagine?! Luckily Hall and several co-conspirators were caught, but not before causing financial damage to innocent taxpayers who were looking for help. 

Ride-Hailing and Delivery Service Scheme

One recent example of identity theft for personal gain comes out of Boston. Two men pled guilty to a scheme where they used stolen identities to trick popular delivery service and ride-sharing companies into hiring drivers that weren’t who they seemed to be. 

The men used personal information from the stolen identities to set up fake accounts at several companies hiring drivers for deliveries or ride-share services. They then sold the phony accounts to individuals who were looking for work but didn’t actually qualify for these open positions. Drivers were hired who didn’t meet requirements to work in the US or who couldn’t pass a background check with their real identities. But these individuals had no problems getting behind the wheel with an assumed identity. 

The criminals obtained driver’s license information and Social Security numbers on the dark web to perpetuate the scheme and ended up earning hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling fake identities before they were caught.

Cross Dressing Death Fraud

In another example of taking fraud attempts too far, a man dressed up as his deceased mother to collect her Social Security checks and to retain her home. Thomas Parkin was in his 40s when his mother, Irene Prusik, passed away in 2003. But rather than mourn her passing and move on with life, he assumed her identity. 

Parkin could not make the mortgage payments on his mother’s multi-million-dollar home in Brooklyn, and it was sold at auction. But he sued the new owners and claimed his mother was still alive. Parkin went to the DMV fully dressed as an elderly woman, bringing along his mother’s birth certificate in order to get a new driver’s license. The con worked, and he was able to keep the house and to cash Social Security checks for over six years. 

Parkin was eventually caught when investigators located his mother’s tombstone, despite his still showing up to a property dispute meeting fully dressed as Irene Prusik. The act earned Parkin 13 to 41 years in prison which may or may not end his days as a cross dresser. 

LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.

*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.