Police advise you to cancel everything if your wallet is lost or stolen before someone uses your name to rack up a ton of debt. Identity thieves work quickly and often spend a ton of cash in your name before you’re able to get help from your bank or credit card company.
Lucky for some identity theft victims, idiots exist in all professions, including the illegal ones. That allowed us to come across the literal worst identity thieves in history.
Check out the stories of the most stupid identify thieves, and try not to replicate their results.
15.) The Sex Offender
Let’s be honest: being a sex offender is a terrible thing. However, being a person who steals the identity of one might also be stupid, to say the least.
A man named James Perry learned this the hard way. Perry was not the smartest man in the world, as he had been arrested several times for drunk driving by the local police in Florida. He knew that another one could cost him possible prison time.
This fear of being arrested again led Perry to steal his neighbor’s identity. However, Perry did not do a deep background check on his neighbor. He happened to be a sex offender that had yet to register with the police.
Later on, Perry paid for this mistake dearly when he was arrested for disorderly conduct. Because the neighbor didn’t register, they had no idea Perry was someone else. As far as idiotic identity thieves go, this stands out heavily.
14.) The Bill Gates Scam
The idea of this scam was simple. Bill Gates, the founder of the massive Microsoft Brand, was giving away some of his money. If you were the lucky person to get an email from Gates, you were going to be getting some of that billionaire’s money. Sounds amazing, right? It’s like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.
This scam involving Gates was as real as that movie, funny enough. Usually, the email offered at least half a million to the lucky person on the other side of the email. All you had to do was give away some small information. Nothing big, just your social security number and banking information. Who needs that, right?
While we’d certainly want to call them idiotic identity thieves for such an obvious scam, people fell for this. Who is more clueless in the end, the thief or those falling for this? You decide!
13.) Someone Missed a Day of Training
Training someone to do their job can be difficult. Usually, the new hire will pick up on things quickly, and you won’t have to worry about much. However, some need more training. And some need a LOT more training.
At a department store, a group of identity thieves decided to rack up a bill of $8,000 on a credit card that was not their own. The card set off an alarm, likely because it had already been marked as stolen by the credit card holder and the company itself.
The employee did what all good employees would do. He called a number to confirm the card was safe to use. However, this young man called the phone number that the identity thieves gave him to check things.
Not only did the thieves get out with $8,000 in relatively free merchandise, but the employee was the butt of several jokes at the store for his entire time there. Let’s just say this store had more than one person working at the register from then on.
12.) Have You Done Your Taxes Yet?
We all hate and love tax time. It’s that time of year where we get back a good bit of money we overspent paying taxes all year. Of course, some people have to catch up on all the taxes they owe. Regardless of which, people should only file their own tax returns and not someone else’s.
However, one Minnesota man did not see it that way. This man filed tax returns for people without their knowledge. He’d then take any refund they might have had.
This act is a felony if convicted, and every single tax return becomes a count on the conviction’s sentencing. The man’s excuse for doing this was that he was trying to “practice” filing tax returns. We guess getting the money was just part of the experience, right?
11.) Mail Call!
While we all know by now that it is a federal crime to knock over a mailbox, stealing someone’s mail is technically not as criminal as it should be.
Most people know that stealing mail is not exactly useful. They can mostly see your bills, which now hide any significant personal information other than your account.
Two morons decided that they’d become great identity thieves and steal their neighbors’ mail. They did this at an apartment building, which is even dumber than doing it at a house because most of these mail areas have cameras. This particular complex did, and the camera caught both men committing the act.
A $1,000 reward was offered for any assistance with their arrest. The men did not last long before they were caught.
10.) The Task of the Stupid
It’s clear that identity thieves are bad people. However, it’s also clear that many steal identities in a variety of ways that tend to be smart most of the time. Then you have these guys, who have no idea how to do the whole stolen identity thing right.
At a Safeway Supermarket, three men decided to use one of their stolen identities using one of their stolen checks. However, the man they took this from happened to be the head of the local task force in charge of capturing identity thieves. Because these men were already on probation, they were in the system and could be found easily. They were quickly caught.
9.) Mom, You’re so Embarrassing
Many women lie about their age. Whether they do it to seem 30 for years beyond this age or they try to pass as 18 or 21 to get into clubs or parties, it’s common. Because it’s so common, no one could fault any other woman for attempting this.
Well, unless that person is named Wendy Brown. This 33-year-old woman attempted to pass as a 15-year-old high school sophomore. She attended Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she fooled no one.
Sometimes you can get away with an older person playing a senior, but a sophomore? Wendy went as far as to try out for the cheerleading squad too.
What made it worse? The identity she stole to do all of this was that of her real-life 15-year-old daughter who was living in Nevada at the time. She was quickly apprehended and faced felony identity theft charges as a result of this stunt. Just… wow.
8.) The Fake Death Paradox
There have been times in movies where we see hilarious ways to escape debt collectors. Some even attempt to fake their death to accomplish this. That said, we cannot fault Li Ming for his attempt to avoid the debt. It is going to follow him into his grave, so why not attempt to do it, right? Who is going to know the difference? This West Chester University student didn’t think the whole thing through, however.
He did fake his death and even forged his own obituary to give more credibility to his untimely demise. To his credit, this all worked and according to the government, Li Ming had passed.
However, despite his years of schooling, he may need more education. Ming tried to get his driver’s license renewed and even open a new line of credit UNDER HIS OWN NAME! He was arrested for stealing his own identity. When stupid identity thieves come up in conversation, it’s hard to avoid speaking about Li.
7.) I’m Not Loving It
When you steal someone’s wallet and plan to use their identity, it might be best to get as far away as possible from your current location. You don’t want to ping any local places to the whereabouts of your last purchase and have it be nearby. The further you are from the theft, the better chance you have to get away with it. However, Estellamarie Ruiz didn’t know this tip.
She decided to steal a person’s wallet and then use it at the nearest McDonald’s. Ruiz could smell the burgers and fries from the theft spot. She’d then use at least one of the credit cards to buy some food for herself. However, because she did not get far, the police were able to catch up with her.
Ruiz was caught still eating her food with the receipts of her purchases in her possession. You have brought great shame to the Hamburglar, Estellamarie, great shame!
6.) Calling the Cops on Yourself?
Identity thieves can sometimes not be the brightest bulb in the box. However, this is flat-out insane.
The story goes that a man’s laptop was stolen, so he called the police to help him recover it. Naturally, this is a smart thing to do. However, the problem here is that this laptop had 30,000 stolen identities listed on it. The police always look at the contents of recovered computers to make sure it belonged to the person who claimed it was theirs.
Therefore, a man essentially called the cops on himself. If he never recovered the laptop, whoever stole it could have been popped for the crime instead of him. You can always buy a new laptop, but you can’t always buy your freedom. This is the kind of guy that would call the cops on a little old lady for bleeding on his clothes after he shot her and stole her purse.
A man walked into a Wichita, Kansas, police station, told cops that he had assumed the identity of a local homeowner, and informed them that they should ignore anyone who called to report him as an imposter or a thief. Bold, yes. Smart? Not so much.
The police investigated and arrested the man and his wife, saying he’d racked up credit card purchases in the homeowner’s name and even invited neighbors over for parties.
Authorities said the imposter and his wife even took out a second mortgage under the stolen identity. The real homeowner had been away for months caring for his sick mother. The fake agent might have gotten away with taking over everything the man owned had he not felt the need to involve the cops in his crime.
4.) The High Price of Pizza
Harrun Majeed dropped his credit card while buying a birthday cake for his son. When he called his bank to report the lost card, he was informed it had already been used. Majeed called the police, who found a man still waiting for the pizzas authorities said he had paid for with Majeed’s credit card.
Dr. Richard Ludwig, a dentist with a net worth of a few million dollars, had more than enough cash in his wallet at the time of his arrest to buy the pizzas. Ludwig, who police say signed the credit card slip with his own name, was accused of credit card theft and fraud. We don’t know what is worse, the fact that he had millions of his own money and used someone’s card that he stole or that he did it and signing his own name.
3.) Seeing Double
During the two weeks following the theft of her wallet, someone used Applebee’s server Brianna Priddy’s identity to write hundreds of dollars in bad checks. Then, someone walked into Applebee’s, sat in Priddy’s section, and used Priddy’s ID to buy drinks. Priddy said nothing to the imposter.
She handed the ID back, said she’d be right back with the woman’s margarita and called the cops. It turned out that the thief was old enough to buy a drink with her own ID and had no need to flash the fake one. As far as identity thieves go, this is one of the most comical.
2.) Worst Costume Ever
This hapless suspect is accused of entering a Des Moines, Washington, Bank of America branch dressed in a bizarre outfit and using another man’s ID to request a new debit card. The man claimed to have been in an accident and wore a lopsided bandage on his head and a neck brace.
The man was dressed in an oversized suit and ill-fitting gray wig with matching eyebrows and mustache. The bank manager, upon seeing the hilarious getup called the police. We can certainly give the criminal an “A” for effort here, at least. The man who committed the crime, Joshua K. Pinney, was charged with second-degree identity theft in 2012.
1.) Third Time Not So Charming
Busboy Abraham Abdallah used the Internet to access the finances of rich folks like Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. At first, this seems smart, because those fancy-pants celebrities would never notice a few hundred siphoned from their credit cards. However, Abdallah got greedy and was caught after trying to make a $10 million transfer.
After his capture and conviction on 12 counts of fraud in 2001, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. This wasn’t Abdallah’s first round as a failed thief. He’d already served a three-year sentence in the United States for bank and credit card fraud. He even spent another jail term in the Virgin Islands for trying to cash a fake $50,000 check before his attempt to steal celebrity identities!
Take our advice: don’t try stealing someone’s identity. It’s just not worth it.