The majority of stolen identity stories involve fraudulent credit card activity or loans being taken out illegally, causing damage to the victim’s credit scores. While these are horrible situations, sometimes it gets worst. Sometimes stolen identity crimes have nothing to do with financial gain. These crazy stolen identity crimes leave innocent parties facing more than just a bill.
Imagine waking up to discover you're now involved in an immigration scam or suspected of murdering a war criminal. Pretend for a moment random family members suddenly started appearing, or social services is threatening to take your children away because of the crimes someone else committed in your name. This list contains some of the worst stolen identity stories.
Frank Abagnale is probably the most famous identity thief in history, thanks to the Leonardo DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can which was based on Abagnale. He was a check forger and a master con artist, posing as everything from a doctor and airline pilot to a lawyer and a US Bureau of Prisons Agent. He managed to evade capture for years and even escaped police custody once apprehended - twice.
What happened to this tricky criminal mastermind? He did a stint in prison and was let out early under the condition that he assist with investigations and teach the FBI identity theft and financial fraud prevention. He’s written books, educated millions, and launched a financial security firm, Abagnale and Associates, which quickly became one of the best in the business.
Frédéric Bourdin took the saying “all the world’s a stage” quite literally, and played the roles of about 500 different people in his lifetime. The serial impostor, nicknamed "The Chameleon" by the press, began his impersonations as a child, and he has taken the identities of at least three missing teenagers. One of those identities was Nicholas Barclay, who disappeared in 1994 at 13. Bourdin became Barclay in 1997. He left France and flew to San Antonio, TX, convincing the missing boy's family that he was their long lost son.
He explained away his French accent - something he picked up when surrounded by Frenchmen - and claimed his eye color was altered by the members of the child prostitution ring that abducted him. The grieving family believed him and he lived in their home for about four months before a private investigator noticed the shape of his ears were different from the missing boy's. After having him fingerprinted and performing a DNA test, it was confirmed he was not Nicholas Barclay. In September 1998 Bourdin was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to passport fraud and perjury.
Barbora Skrlova, a Czech Republic woman, was arrested in January 2008 for stealing the identities of multiple children - both male and female. She took the identities of children connected to child abuse cases and a religious cult known as The Grail Movement.
Skrlova, 33, posed as a 13-year-old girl named Annika, the child of a cult member. She moved in with and was legally adopted by another cult member, Klara Mauerova, in the Czech Republic and convinced the woman to abuse her sons. The two brothers, 8-year-old Ondrej and 10-year-old Jakub, were severely tortured. Both boys were beaten, chained, sexually assaulted, and even partially skinned so their raw flesh could be consumed by their own family members.
When police started investigating the abuse - and the cult - thought they were rescuing two little boys and a teenage girl. But really they were escorting Skrlova to safety and “Annika” disappeared shortly after. She taped down her breasts, shaved her head, and enrolled in a Norwegian school as a 13-year-old boy named Adam. The Czech police eventually tracked her down and she stood trial for identity theft and the role she played in the abuse of Ondrej and Jakub.
Ondrej and Jakub's mother was sentence to nine years, their aunt Katerina - another abuser - was sentenced to 10 years, and Skrlova was sentenced to five years.
Wendy Brown was 33-years-old when she decided to steal her 15-year-old daughter Jaimi's identity to attend high school and join the cheerleading squad. In 2008 Jaimi was living with her grandmother in Nevada, and Brown saw this as the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time. She enrolled herself in Ashwaubenon High School as her daughter and tried out for the cheerleading team. She went to cheer practice, went to a day's worth of classes, and even went to a party hosted by the team's coach.
But when she stopped showing up for class, truancy officials went sniffing around her apartment and things unraveled for Brown. When they couldn’t get in touch with "Jaimi" or her mother, they called the school Jaimi transferred from in Nevada for additional contact information and found out the real Jaimi never left. Soon they discovered the girl they just let on the cheer team was actually Jaimi’s 33-year-old mother, Wendy. Brown was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and two other personality disorders. She was committed to a mental health facility and earned her GED.