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10 of the Most Interesting Identity-Theft Stories

identity-theft stories

Imagine how frustrating it would be just to prove your own identity. Strangely enough, you might need to do that in case you happen to be a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves basically will pretend as if they are their victim and play the victim’s role for whatever exploitations they might be seeking, which are most commonly financial. However, there have been some strange cases where the motivations of stealing identity were extended to more than just money. The following list is of 10 such interesting identity-theft stories that will surprise you.

1. A 51-year-old man in Brooklyn named Thomas Parkin dressed up as his dead mother Irene for six long years since 2013 and collected her social security checks. He did other real estate frauds too that totaled up to $115,000.

Thomas Parkin- identity-theft stories
A surveillance photo shows Thomas Prusik-Parkin renewing the driver’s license of his dead mother Irene. Image credits: Dailymail.co.uk

Irene, Thomas’s mother, was 73 when she died in September 2003, but the monthly benefits were paid until June 2009. Irene was an actress. To pretend he was his mother, Thomas wore a wig, heavy make-up, the dresses of his mother, and also used a cane.

Thomas was caught when he tried to reach a prosecutor in case of a foreclosure auction, still disguised as his mother, to complain that he was being ripped off of $660,000 by the person who bought the apartment in which he was living.

Milton Rimolo was also involved in the scam with Thomas. He lived with him pretending as if he was taking care of his “elderly aunt.”

Thomas was 51 when was caught and was found guilty of 11 different criminal counts that included real estate fraud, grand larceny, perjury, and forgery.

Thomas was sentenced to more than 13 years of prison, and his accomplice was arrested and went to jail for a year. (1, 2)

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2. An Identity thief, Ferdinand Demara, stole the identity of a surgeon. He ended up on board a Navy destroyer and was tasked to carry out multiple life-saving surgeries. Just before he began the surgeries, he memorized the procedures out of a medical textbook, and surprisingly, all the patients survived.

Ferdinand Waldo Demara
Ferdinand Waldo Demara.

Ferdinand was an American imposter, and throughout his life, he acted in various professions including a civil engineer, sheriff’s deputy, prison warden, doctor of psychology, lawyer, monk, etc. He disguised himself multiple times and was also known as “the great imposter.”

One of his most popular incidents was when Ferdinand posed as a Navy doctor.

He was acquainted with a young Canadian doctor named Joseph Cyr. He picked up his identity and boarded the Royal Canadian Navy destroyer as a trauma surgeon during the Korean War.

He was the only surgeon present on the board, so everybody was expecting him to help the victims of war. He successfully conducted surgeries on 16 soldiers. When he was asked to prepare, he went into his room and quickly read the textbook on general surgeries.

When the news was spread of the doctor’s achievement, the mother of real Dr. Cyr reported that Cyr never went to the Korean War and was actually practicing medicine in Brunswick.

Canadian officials were embarrassed to learn that they had an imposter on board and willingly did not press any charges on Demara, and he was quietly forced to flee to the US. (1, 2)

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3. After Michael Finkel, an American journalist, was fired from the New York Times, he realized that a murderer from Michigan, Christian Longo, was using his name as a fugitive after killing his wife and children. The two individuals ended up having a good friendship after some interviews initiated by the journalist. 

Finkel was fired from his job after using a composite human figure to write a cover piece on the African slave trade. Simultaneously, Longo had been using Finkel’s name after he killed his wife and three children in 2001.

When the journalist got fired for lying, he decided to interview Longo. He was searching for the answer to why he himself lied during his work as a journalist. He hoped that interviewing Longo would help him understand himself.

Longo admits that he was guilty of his crimes during the interrogation with Finkel, and they ended up having a friendly conversation. Longo also said that he was hoping from the journalist’s side to bring out “the real story.”

After the interviews were over, it became the source of the plot of a drama called The True Story, which was released as a film in 2015. Finkel also wrote a memorial book based on the interviews he had with the criminal that he named True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, published in 2005. (1, 2)

4. Esther Reed picked up the identities of three individuals to get into three universities, two of which were Ivy League schools and one was Harvard University. She collected more than $100,000 from student loans. 

Esther Reed- identity-theft stories
Esther Reed. Image credits: helenair.com

Reed started her identity-stealing business in 1999 and went missing with the name of Brooke Henson. From then on, she had been living using other people’s identities for nine years.

Once she claimed to be a European chess champion, dated cadets from the US Military Academy,  got a passport, cleared all the necessary tests including the SAT, and was accepted into the University of Columbia.

Later, she enrolled at Harvard and California State University as well.

Ultimately, in February 2008, she was caught by the police in suburban Chicago after tracking her to a motel by following the car she had been driving. Initially, Reed posed an Iowa driver by showing one Iowa driver’s license but soon admitted her true identity.

After interrogations, police mentioned that Reed is an extremely smart and sophisticated woman.

When caught, she was asked to pay $125,000 to the victims as restitution and was sentenced to four years of prison. She was 30 at the time. (1, 2)

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5. A 13-year-old boy, Nicholas Barclay, had been missing since June 1994 from his Texas home. Frederic Bourdin, a French serial imposter, flew into the US with Nicholas’ identity in 1977. Frederic had brown eyes and Nicholas had blue. Frederic made up a story that he had been forced into a child prostitution ring and the people changed his eye color. He lived with the convinced parents for five months before his true identity was revealed.

Frédéric Bourdin
Nicholas Barclay (Left) Frédéric Bourdin (Right) Image credits: VICE Asia/Youtube

Bourdin was a serial imposter who had a record of impersonating identities more than 500 times. He is also recognized as “The Chameleon” by the press, and a movie called Imposter is based on his life.

Bourdin was just a child when he started living using other people’s identities. Bourdin was raised by his grandparents in Nantes, and he never knew his father. He eventually fled to Paris.

Nicholas, the missing Texas boy, was last seen on 13 Jun 1994 in San Antonio while playing basketball with his friends. Bourdin took advantage of the poor parents who lost their child and lived using his identity for five months until 6 March 1998. In 1997, a local investigator grew suspicious of the boy after observing his ears.

Since that evidence was not enough, in February 1998, a court order was granted to test the young man’s fingerprints and DNA. That revealed Bourdin’s true identity. He was then imprisoned for six years for the crime.

Six years of a prison sentence was not enough for Bourdin to stop stealing the identities. He resumed it after he was released and went to France in 2003. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 Insane Crimes That Happened in Diners

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