LifeLock’s Very Odd Case «

LifeLock’s Very Odd Case

For the sake of privacy, I’ll call him “Red.”

Red was a victim of one of the oddest cases of identity theft I’ve ever come across.

It all started when Red’s son, who is a West Coast media personality, telephoned. “Dad,” he said, “I love what you’re doing for those kids in Africa, but why are you putting pictures of my boys on your website”?

If that question makes no sense to you, you’re not alone. Red didn’t have a website, wasn’t helping any African children, and had never posted pictures of his grandsons online. But someone had created a site for a scam charity in his name. It include a retouched photo of Red with some starving African children, a photo of his grandkids, a PayPal link for making donations and played a very cheesy version of “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Now Red’s business had taken him in and out of Africa about 70 times. And although he’d been approached by companies wanting to build him a website, the nature of his work had always required him to deal with pre-screened, carefully chosen customers. So a web presence was unnecessary at best.

Red’s first action was to work through some of his son’s law enforcement contacts. But six weeks later, the fraudulent site was still up and soliciting donations.

Next, he approached a neighbor who was a retired DEA executive. The friend tried to help, but a month later the site was still scamming donations. And Red’s grandkids were still online.

Red then turned to the FBI. He described their reaction as “literally shameful.” He was never able to get anyone at the Bureau interested in taking up his case.

“Finally,” Red told me, “I woke up and said ‘I’m a LifeLock member. Maybe I should go to them.’ Boom. In twenty-fours hours, the site was down.”

Red called LifeLock’s customer service number and reached Christine Hamilton. He explained his odd case to Christine and, although this wasn’t traditional identity theft, she told Red she’d get right to work. “I don’t what they did,” he said, “it just happened.”

Christine called back a few hours later. She asked Red to try and pull up the site that had hijacked his life for months. It was gone.

So tell me, have you ever heard an identity theft story to match that one? I’m having a hard time coming up with one.


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