Celebrity identity theft is not new in the world of identity theft as identity thieves often target celebrities because of their fame and wealth.
Yes, even celebrities are not immune to identity theft. High profile celebrities such as movie actors, sportspersons, politicians, business tycoons and TV personalities also fell for identity theft.
Here, we are listing the cases of the top 5 celebrities affected by identity theft:
The world famous socialite Kim Kardashian also fell for celebrity identity theft. A teenager named Luis Flores, Jr., stole Kardashian’s identity using her SSN. He replaced the SSN on his account with the one belonging to Kardashian. Then, he requested a replacement card to be mailed at his address in Lake Mary, Florida, where he lived with his mother. Flores transferred more than $71,000 from Kardashian’s mother’s account into his own.
Flores’ mother, Kyah Green, also assisted her son in this huge identity theft scheme. She attempted to cover up her son’s fraudulent activity by lying to the authorities.
Not only Kim Kardashian, Flores allegedly stole the identities of numerous other celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Tom Cruise, and Paris Hilton. He also had the Social Security Numbers and bank account information of Michelle Obama, Bills Gates and Beyonce Knowles on a flash drive.
Both Flores and Green pleaded guilty to credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Flores was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for stealing identities of multiple celebrities. Green was sentenced to three years of probation in addition to her jail sentence.
Willard Carroll Smith, the famous actor known for blockbuster movies like ‘I Am Legend’ and ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ became a victim of identity theft. A man named Carlos Lomax opened 14 credit card accounts at various department and specialty stores in the Pittsburgh region using Smith’s Social Security Number and other information. He procured approximately $33,000 through these cards. He was later pleaded guilty to one count of the use of an unauthorized access device. Eventually, he was sentenced to 37 months in prison which was later reduced to 30 months.
According to U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, Lomax had also been charged with stealing the identity of Steve Smith – the American retired basketball player. He spent $81,000 in credit card bills using the player’s identity.
Tiger Woods, a professional golfer lost his identity when Anthony Lemar Taylor used his information for giving himself a shopping treat. Taylor used Woods’ date of birth and SSN to apply for a credit card and driver’s license in the golfer’s real name – Eldrick T Woods. Taylor used the credit card to buy himself a luxury car, furniture, a TV, and other electronics worth $17,000.
After getting caught, Taylor faced a trial at the Sacramento County Superior Court. Woods was the opening witness. Taylor was charged with six counts of felony identity theft and perjury.
Woods said that he rarely goes on shopping sprees and when he do, he usually pays cash for his purchases.
Michael Bloomberg also lost his identity at the time when he was the mayor of the USA. A man named Odalis Bostic created a company and then opened accounts in its name at two banks. Then he deposited forged checks for $190,000 and $230,000 into the respective accounts. He issued these checks in the name of the mayor’s financial manager and he drew them from the mayor’s personal account at a different bank. As the size of the checks was so huge, the two banks became suspicious and detected the forged checks. As a result, Bostic was charged with attempting second-degree grand larceny.
The other case involved Charles Nelson who actually stole money from the mayor’s personal bank account. Nelson transferred $10,000 from Bloomberg’s account into an internet brokerage account. After discovering Nelson’s crime, he was charged with identity theft in the first degree and grand larceny in the third degree. The police also recovered a computer, two guns, and some documents at the time of arrest.
Yes, Zuckerberg is also present in our list of cases of celebrity identity theft! Zuckerberg apparently wasn’t aware of the fact that he should be using different passwords for all his accounts. And boom! His Twitter & Pinterest accounts got hacked. He used the same password “dadada” for all his accounts. This took place somewhere around 6th June 2016.
Security experts quickly recovered Zuckerberg’s accounts. The hackers posted screenshots over the internet where they mentioned that they were “just testing your security”. This clearly states that Zuckerberg has a bad password hygiene. If you have a poor password hygiene, change yours as well. Never use the same password for all your accounts. Make it a habit of making use of a password manager.
Identity theft happens every day all over the world to all kinds of people. No matter how poor or rich you are, no one is immune to this destructive crime. Therefore, take as many security measures as you can to protect yourself. Be aware of your surroundings and make consistent efforts to monitor your credit reports by using credit monitoring services.