With all the attention on the dangers of identity theft, you’d think that it would be on the decline. According to Time, the Federal Trade Commission says that’s not the case — an estimated 9 million people have their identity stolen every year. Even though the public has become used to identity theft as much a part of life as muggings in the big city, the ID thieves continue to take things to the next level. Are they trying to entertain? To astonish? To horrify? Whatever their reasons, some cases of identity theft are truly bizarre.
Busboy (Fake) Billionaire
Anyone who’s worked a job he feels is beneath him understands daydreaming of the day he’ll make it big. Most use the experience as incentive to get an education or otherwise improve themselves. A few, however, turn to identity theft to better their circumstances. Take busboy Abraham Abdallah, whom the Daily Harbor reports applied his skills on the Internet to access financial accounts of the rich and famous. When he was caught, Abdallah had Oprah’s financial info and the credit card number of one Mr. Steven Spielberg. Yes, that one. The transaction that finally tripped Abdallah up? Attempting to transfer 10 million (say it like Dr. Evil) dollars on behalf of a software mogul.
Trying to be Himself
There’s nothing to be gained by stealing from yourself. Apparently, though, Li Ming, a West Chester University of Pennsylvania grad student, didn’t think it through and was just desperate enough to give it a shot. Web magazine Sentiasa Panas detailed how Ming faked his own death to wriggle out of some pretty big credit card debt. He even had a bogus obit published in the local newspaper. After a nine-month wait, Ming decided to be born again. No, he didn’t have a spiritual awakening. He tried to get a new driver’s license — under his own name — so that he could apply for a load of fresh credit cards. Mr. Ming must not have done his homework on id theft facts. Otherwise, he would have known that the DMV doesn’t typically issue licenses to the dead. Instead, they tend to contact the authorities, and when they did this time Li Ming was charged with stealing his own identity.
The most common reason people steal identities is for financial gain, but it isn’t the only reason ID theft occurs. Take the peculiar case of Raphael Golb. When Golb’s professor father posed a troublesome theory about the Dead-Sea Scrolls, it was understandably pooh-poohed, and sometimes outright disregarded, by the senior Golb’s colleagues. Raphael, not content to let his father’s theory fall to the wayside, forged statements that supported his padre’s theories, put the colleague’s names to them and posted them online. Golb did it out of love and family loyalty, but it still got him charged with aggravated harassment, criminal impersonation and identity theft.