While the intense scrutiny of famous individuals may seem glamorous, there are still everyday dangers that they face in life – including the theft of their identity. Actually, being in the public eye places celebrities at more risk for becoming a victim of identity theft that affects athletes, musicians, actors, actresses, and even politicians. Whether you are the high-flying Michael Jordan or the talkative Oprah Winfrey, celebrity identity theft is a reality.
When it comes to celebrity identity theft, there are many different ways a thieve gains entrance into the private life of famous individuals. While some steal credit card numbers, others simply hack into cell phones, as seen in the case of Paris Hilton.
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Some identity thieves are notorious for finding clever ways on how to manipulate the system in order to create havoc. A recently discovered identity theft ring in the Northeastern Philadelphia used the postal service to illegally reroute celebrity mail by using a change of address form that involved a target list including Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vick, Whitney Houston, Paris Hilton, and Patti LaBelle. It is also believed that one suspect used their ties with the Internal Revenue Service to gain personal information.
It is also not uncommon to see a criminal misuse or steal multiple identities of celebrities at one time, as seen in the case of Abraham Abdallah, who infiltrated the privacy of countless celebrities. Using the Internet to retrieve important details on the likes of Oprah Winfrey, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Abdallah is thought to have attempted to steal $22 million, as he opened mailboxes in various names to aid in his criminal activity. Using a copy of the Forbes top 400 list of wealthiest individuals, he easily chose who he would target. When arrested, he had notations spanning the Social Security numbers, home addresses, and birth dates of various company executives, celebrities, and wealthy tycoons. In his possession, he had accumulated more than 400 stolen credit card numbers.
Some of the tools and resources that identity thieves use to steal from others are easily accessible. Abdallah was able to manipulate various companies, such as the credit reporting Equifax, which he used to obtain detailed credit reports. He used library computers, cell phones with Internet access, virtual voicemail, and courier services to target celebrities. Once enough information was gathered in order to pose as celebrities, he was able to collect credit card numbers and important financial records.
While celebrities are often targeted in regards to identity theft, those caught in the act are severely punished. The man who stole the identity of Tiger Woods was convicted and sentenced under the “three strikes” law in California, where he was given 200 years in prison. As for Abdallah, he was charged with criminal impersonation, forgery, and fraud with a bail set at $1 million.
Be Alert for Your Own Self & Loved Ones, too!
Take steps to safeguard your private, personal and financial information, as well as that of your loved ones. Help by alerting others to this info and share tips with them for their safety.