Evil Week is winding down, but that doesn’t mean your evil deeds need come to an end. To paraphrase Tracy Jordan, you can live every week like it’s Evil Week.
It's Evil Week at Lifehacker, which means we're looking into less-than-seemly methods for getting shit done. We like to think we're shedding light on these tactics as a way to help you do the opposite, but if you are, in fact, evil, you might find this week unironically helpful. That's up to you.
Or maybe you just really want to mess with someone. And assuming you have the technical skill, there are countless ways to do that by stealing someone’s identity.
You know the obvious ones: Open a credit card in their name, order a bunch of crap on Amazon, buy a car, blah, blah, blah But we’re trying to be a little more creative than that. Here are some of the most evil things scammers can do with someone else’s identity:
Get Free Medical Care
Medical identity theft is one of the more difficult kinds to clean up. Basically, you’d use someone else’s name and health insurance info to see a doctor or get treatment. It’s a one-two hit: The scam-ee’s medical files get messed up with all of your medical information, and they get stuck with the bill.
While Australia's healthcare system isn't as broken as the US, you could use this to get some sweet free dental surgery or other cosmetic procedure. Surprise medical bills are for law-abiding citizens only.
(But seriously, if you’re an actual victim of medical identity theft, which is becoming increasingly common, here’s what you need to do.)
This is one of the classic Shitty Things to do on the internet, but leaves a lot of room for creative interpretation while not necessarily requiring a ton of technical know-how. A great hack! Essentially, you can create a fake online persona (or assume someone else’s), and have someone fall in love with you before you pull the rug out from under them and stomp on their heart as they’re splayed on the cold, dark floor.
A 'catfish' is someone who uses the anonymity of the internet to create a fake online identity. Usually, the aim is to lure somebody into a romantic relationship; either to fleece them out of money, for personal gratification or simply to mess with their heads. It's a terrible practice that can lead to heartache and financial ruin. In related news, welcome to Evil Week!
BroBible, a site I assume is just Evil Week year-round minus any good faith, offers this five-step process to catfishing someone. I’d quote some of it but I fear it is too upsetting even for this post. Be warned!
There are a ton of frightening catfishing stories out there, but I’d look to the LA Times’ Dirty John series in particular for inspiration. If you’re looking for a more humorous take on internet sabotage, American Vandal Season 2 features an elaborate catfishing plot line I found satisfying.
Really Catfish Someone
That said, catfishing someone for cruelty, easy sex or money and then bouncing is pretty lame. Why not take it to the natural extreme? Get married.
While a marriage identity theft scenario might take place for immigration reasons, this is also obviously useful as a financial ruse. You want money or property, they have it, so you get married. All you really need to carry this out, if news reports are to be believed, is someone else’s birth certificate. Use your wiles to ensure there’s no pre-nup, get divorced and then bounce.
This exact scam plays out in an episode of The Good Cop on Netflix, a show that is not good but that I still watched the entirety of in a single weekend.
Pretend to Be Someone’s Missing Family Member
With a little hair dye and a lot of moxie, you can pretend to be someone’s long-lost family member in the vein of the infamous French criminal Frederic Bourdin. Why would you do this? To get out of trouble for one of your other reported 40 impersonations, of course.
Immortalised in the documentary “The Imposter,” Bourdin, aka The Chameleon, assumed the identity of Nicholas Barclay, a missing American teenager, in 1997, according to Time. He lived with the boy’s real family undiscovered for over a year:
Despite the fact that he had a heavy French accent and didn’t match the boy’s appearance — Bourdin’s eyes are brown and Barclay’s were blue — Barclay’s family bought the deception, bringing Bourdin back to the United States, enrolling him in classes and never questioning that he was their long-lost teenager. They discovered the ruse only after an investigator working for the TV show Hard Copy interviewed the boy in preparation for a story on his miraculous reappearance and noticed all the discrepancies.
Bourdin is apparently married now, so just know that even if you’re a criminal whose multiple impersonation schemes were foiled by the police, you can still find love. Heartwarming.
Why not merge two Evil Week hacks and launder money under an assumed identity?
In this scenario, you might work at a bank or have access to someone’s personal and bank account information another way (look around on the Dark Web, there’s plenty of info out there). You’d open a checking account in that person’s name, and then either embezzle funds from the bank or transfer funds from your international criminal conspiracies into that account. Then, you can enjoy your money, and if and when the police catch on, you’re safe—they’ll go arrest the other person. Easy!
That’s how it played out for Carlos Gomez, a Florida UPS driver, in 2004, according to the Miami Herald:
Fighting a bad cold, Carlos Gomez had decided to sleep by himself that night so he wouldn’t expose his wife.
He awoke to a nightmare. Just before dawn, insistent pounding on the front door jolted the ex-Marine and young father out of bed. Federal agents poured into his Kendall home, pushing his wife aside and rushing to his bedroom. They held guns to his face before slapping him in handcuffs.
“I kept asking, ‘What is going on?’ ” recalled Gomez, who works as a driver for UPS. “I was scared for my life.”
Gomez, busted in a money-laundering scheme, would spend nearly two weeks in a federal detention center and another seven months under house arrest.
It took 222 days before federal prosecutors realised it was all a terrible mistake: A rogue bank worker had stolen his identity.
Steal Someone’s House
Let’s say you notice a neighbour or someone else has been away from home for a while. Maybe they’re on an extended work leave out of the country, or caring for a loved one in a different state. Whatever the case, their house is open and their mail is piling up. Why not move in?
There are multiple ways to do this. One would be to just assume the identity of the person whose house it actually is. Another would be to turn in fraudulent papers signing the house over to yourself. (Here’s how that works, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.)
Sure, you might face some complications when the actual owner comes back, but who knows when that will be — overall it seems like a pretty easy process. If you’re good at forging documents and stealing personal information, why not give it a try?
There’s a lot more trouble you could get into, but presumably these activities will keep you busy until the next Evil Week. See you then!