Identity theft doesn’t just happen on-line; sometimes, it happens in real life. How well do you know your friends and acquaintances? This is something you need to ask yourself any time you invite someone into your home. I was speaking with a close friend the other day and she told me of an experience that her cousin recently went through. The situation went like this:
A few years ago, Lynne met Andy at a business conference in Las Vegas. They spent some time together and in getting to know each other. They realized that they lived in the same mid-western city. In fact, they were scheduled on the same flight home, so they arranged to sit together on the plane so they could continue their great conversations. Once they landed, they exchanged phone numbers and said they’d keep in touch.
A week later, Lynne got a call from Andy and they went on their first “hometown date”. Conversation was easy, Andy was a gentleman and everything went well. So well, in fact, that within a few months, Lynne and Andy started talking about taking the next step by moving in together. Since Andy’s lease was up first, he didn’t renew and moved his things to Lynne’s apartment.
About six months into the new living arrangement, Andy’s mother came to visit from their native country. Andy had became a US citizen a few years earlier, but his mom was very upset that he had become so “Americanized” that he felt comfortable moving in with a woman he wasn’t married to. She also didn’t like the fact that Lynne’s family was a different ethnicity, so she encouraged Andy to get his own apartment again. Not only that, but she also suggested that Andy bring his ex-girlfriend to the US to live.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over too well with Lynne. When his mother left, Andy and Lynne fought over this issue. Andy couldn’t understand why Lynne was so upset because his mother was just looking out for him. Things got so bad that Andy moved out.
About a month after he moved, Andy called her and told her that he missed her and that he wanted them to start dating again. Lynne agreed, but let him know that they would be taking things slowly. After a while, Andy started spending weekends at Lynne’s apartment.
Lynne needed her Social Security card to apply for a loan. When she went to get it from its place in her closet, she discovered it was missing. She really didn’t give it too much thought because she figured she simply misplaced it. The next day, she went to the Social Security office to get a duplicate card.
Shortly after this, Andy and Lynne had a huge fight and broke up for good. A week later, she saw Andy walking out of City Hall with a woman she didn’t know. Apparently, Andy was well acquainted with this woman because they stopped at the top of the stairs and had pictures taken as she tossed her bridal bouquet to a small group of people that came out of the building with them!
When Lynne got home, there were so many things running through her mind. At the top of that list was her missing Social Security card. Since Andy lived with her, he knew where she kept all of her important documents. She was sure that she hadn’t moved her Social Security card, but shortly after Andy started spending weekends with her, it came up missing. Could he have taken it? She then remembered Andy’s mother asking him to bring his ex-girlfriend to the United States. Could his new wife be this “ex-girlfriend”?
After some investigating, Lynne was able to get a copy of Andy’s marriage license. According to the license SHE was his new bride! Andy was the one who stole her Social Security card and used her identity to bring this woman to the United States and marry her. Lynne had become a victim of identity theft! She immediately went to the Social Security office to report the theft and filed a police report.
Lynne never thought this could happen to her. She knew that strangers over the Internet stole identities, so she was always so careful whenever she went on-line. She didn’t realize that someone she trusted in her home, someone she lived with, would do something like this to her.
By Alicia Szot