Last Updated on March 2, 2023
Throughout history there have been many cases of identity theft. Modern identity thieves have many more ways of snagging your personal information. They also have numerous ways of wreaking havoc on your finances and your credit rating.
In this article, we will take a brief look at some of the most famous cases of identity theft. Some are known for the amount of money stolen, some are famous for how the crime was committed, while others are notable because who the thief or victim was.
7 Famous Identity Theft Cases
The frequency of identity theft today, makes this crime almost unremarkable. However, there are some stand-out cases of identity theft. These cases made the headlines, and brought to light the immense impact identity theft has on the individual, businesses and governments.
In the early 2000s Teledata Communications was a software company that made a product that allowed businesses to easily perform routine customer credit checks. Phillip Cummings was an employee of this company from 1999 to 2000.
Before leaving Teledata Communications, Cummings stole a spreadsheet containing the user names and passwords for numerous individuals. Cummings and an accomplice sold this list of information to other parties for illegitimate use. The stolen data resulted in $50 to $100 million in stolen funds.
The case of Kenneth Gibson is one that shows how technology can be exploited to steal your identity.
Kenneth Gibson worked for a large software company as an IT professional. During his employment with this company during the years of 2012 to 2017, Kenneth was able to access the personal information of thousands of people.
Gibson used a self-designed software program that would access the personal information of customers to open fake PayPal accounts. Using these fake PayPal accounts, Gibson would transfer small amounts of money and take cash advances from PayPay credit cards. He would retrieve the funds from an ATM using a debit card.
Gibson’s scheme was quite successful, and may have gone on for many more years. However, he made a mistake, which exposed his fraudulent activities. In 2018, after requesting a check from PayPal instead of just using the ATM, Gibson was caught.
He was eventually sentenced to 4 years in prison and had to repay the $3.5 million that he stole from 8,000 victims.
We often believe that our personal information is safe when it is submitted to the government. However, Nakeisha Hall is the exception to this rule. Nakeisha was an employee with the IRS.
She worked as a taxpayer advocate, and was supposed to help people who were victims of tax fraud.
However, she was actually using the IRS database to steal personal information for hundreds of people. She used this information to file fraudulent tax returns.
Before being caught in 2011, Hall was able to steal around $400,000 from the federal government. She was eventually sentenced to 9 years in prison.
David Matthew Read
The case of David Matthew Read and his accomplice Marc Higley is a good example of how famous people are just as vulnerable to identity theft.
In 2018, Read posed as the personal assistant for actress Demi Moore. Using her personal information acquired from the internet, Read reported to American Express that Ms. Moore had lost her no-limit Black card, and requested that a new one be issued.
Because he had all of Ms. Moore’s personal information, American Express approved the request, and sent a new card, not to Ms. Moore, but to a FedEx store where Read was able to collect the card.
Over a few short weeks, Read and Higley used the card to purchase over $168,000 in goods that they intended to resell for a profit. Read and Higley were eventually caught when Read used Ms. Moore’s American Express and his personal credit card to pay the balance of a transaction.
After their arrest and court cases, Read was sentenced to multiple years in prison. Higley was sentenced to 14 months in a half-way house and was required to pay over $52,000 in restitution.
Turhan Armstrong took advantage of a group of people that most of us think are safe from identity theft – children.
In 2017 Armstrong was convicted for working a scam that stole $3.3 million using the personal information of children. Armstrong’s scheme ran for nearly 10 years. He exploited the fact that most parents do not monitor their children’s social security numbers.
Using the personal information of children, Turhan Armstron was able to open lines of credit, purchase homes and cars and even set up shell companies to hide his stolen money.
Armstrong’s downfall was when the IRS realized that he did not declare income in the years of 2009 to 2017, but had multiple properties around the US. In the search of Turhan Armstrong’s properties authorities found hundreds of social security numbers, fake IDs and credit cards.
Armstrong was tried and convicted of his crimes in 2020. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison after being found guilty of 51 charges that included money laundering, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Luis Flores and his mother, like David Matthew Read, attempted to exploit the identity of a famous person. In this case Kim Kardashian. However, Mr. Flores was not as crafty as David Read, and this attempt at fraud was his last.
In 2014 Luis Flores contacted American Express, impersonating Kim Kardashian, and changed her social security number and address on record, to his own information.
The smart people at American Express saw through this scam and brought in the Secret Service to investigate. What investigators found was shocking.
Not only did Flores have the personal information for Kim Kardashian, but he also had information for high profile individuals including Michelle Obama, Paris Hilton, Bill Gates and many, many more.
Flores was also found to be connected to fraud cases that involved high ranking officials from the FBI and US Marshals.
Flores was eventually convicted and sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison. His mother, who was his accomplice, was also sentenced to jail and probation.
This is perhaps one of the scariest cases of identity theft. Nicole McCabe’s identity was stolen by the Israeli Intelligence Agency and used in the assassination of a high ranking member of the extremist group Hamas.
McCabe, originally an Australian citizen, had been living in Israel for a few years when news of the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was reported. McCabe was driving her car when she heard the news story and her name as one of the suspects.
Nicole McCabe was just one of a handful of people that were citizens of other countries whose identities were stolen to perpetrate the assassination of Al-Mabhouh. Fortunately for McCabe and the others, the theft of their identities was reported and confirmed quickly.