Top 10 Times Famous People Had Their Identities Stolen



Top 10 Times Famous People Had Their Identities Stolen

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Callum Janes
These celebs need better security. For this list, we'll be looking at times actors, politicians, musicians, TV personalities, or even CEOs had their identities stolen for nefarious reasons. Our countdown includes Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, and more!

Top 10 Extreme Cases of Stolen Identity From Famous People

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Extreme Cases of Stolen Identity From Famous People.

For this list, we’ll be looking at times actors, politicians, musicians, TV personalities, or even CEOs had their identities stolen for nefarious reasons.

Which of these entries was most shocking to you? Let us know in the comments!

#10: 50 Cent & Carmelo Anthony

One Hartford couple apparently did get a dollar out of these celebrities. Back in 2013, the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, United States Secret Service, and Hartford Police Department all joined forces to arrest Jonathan Preston and Lumi Nunez. They’d obtained their victims' personal information from the Internet, got their credit card details, and spent more than half a million dollars in their names. The couple spent it on diamonds, multiple vehicles, gambling, and even hired a limousine to drive from Hartford to Ohio! They were living it large while 50 Cent, then-New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, and others were footing the bill! The couple was charged with various counts of fraud and sentenced to roughly three years’ prison time.

#9: Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway & Others

When you’re at the spa, you just want to relax. And that’s apparently how they get you, when you’re at your most vulnerable! Beautician Maria Gabriela Perez was described as the “leading esthetician in the beauty care world” and served many A-list stars. On the website for her salon were photos signed by celebrities she worked with, all praising her work. So it’s surprising that she decided to use their credit card information to falsely charge them over half a million dollars. Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Liv Tyler, and Melanie Griffith were all victims of this betrayal of trust. Perez was sentenced to five years probation and 3,000 hours of community service.

#8: Mark Zuckerberg

It’s ironic that a CEO accused of profiting from private data had his data hacked into. In 2012, a post came from Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter boasting about someone’s ability to get into his account. It seemed that Zuckerberg had a simplistic password that he just so happened to share on LinkedIn, which recently had over 160 million accounts hacked. Zuckerberg wasn’t the only one, as the hacker group OurMine followed up by targeting celebrities like Channing Tatum and even Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The reason behind these public attacks was allegedly to “advertise their services.” While they didn’t do anything malicious, it’s a stark reminder that your information can be easily obtained online.

#7: Jean-Yves Le Drian

It’s one thing when a celebrity gets impersonated, it’s another when government officials are. For two years in the mid 2010s, CEOs and government officials were contacted by someone posing as French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. These wealthy victims were asked to help pay supposed ransoms for journalists held hostage in the Middle East. France systematically doesn’t pay those ransoms, so the impersonator asked for funds to be wired to a Chinese bank account. Phone calls were the first stage, which were followed up with video calls wherein an impersonator wore a Le Drian mask. The scammers stole an estimated €80 million, but two of them were extradited to France from Ukraine.

#6: Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg & Others

Being on Forbes’s “The 400 Richest People in America” can be an honor. But it also makes you a target. Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffet, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, and many more fell victim to this incredibly adventurous case of identity fraud. 32 year-old busboy Abraham Abdallah used the Forbes list in 2001 to target wealthy individuals and steal millions of dollars. He scribbled all the essential details into his copy of the magazine and picked up equipment to make phony credit cards. But he got a bit too greedy. The NYPD caught onto him after he tried to transfer ten million dollars from an account with Merrill Lynch, causing a cascade of investigations and eventually resulting in his arrest.

#5: LifeLock CEO Todd Davis

This one is incredibly apropos because the victim challenged people to try and steal his identity. LifeLock is a company that specializes in identity theft protection. So to prove how effective they are, CEO Todd Davis put his social security number on the front page of their websites. What do you think happened next? Yeah, his identity got stolen…. thirteen times. Several accounts were opened up in his name, racking up thousands of dollars in debt. Of course, given that his company was meant to prevent this from happening, it wasn’t the best look. LifeLock was subsequently fined $12 million by the Federal Trade Commission for “deceptive advertising,” but that was only the start of it.

#4: Tiger Woods

This court case showed people not to mess with Tiger. Using Woods’s given name, birth date, and stolen social security number, Anthony Lemar Taylor acquired an official driver’s license. He then used this to open up credit cards and buy a used luxury car, 70-inch TV and stereos, raking up $17,000 in charges. But he got caught and was swiftly taken to court in 2000. There he was given a 200 years-to-life sentence in prison! His lawyer argued that the court used Woods’s celebrity status to justify such a brutal sentence. However, the court cited Taylor’s many other misdemeanors and felony crimes over the past seventeen years.

#3: Kim Kardashian, Michelle Obama & Others

If you’re gonna steal, you might as well aim high. And it doesn’t get much higher than Kim Kardashian, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and countless other celebrities. Personal and financial information for all of these famous people was released onto the web. This information was used by 19 year-old Luis Flores, Jr. to change social security numbers on Kardashian’s accounts and order replacement cards to his address. He was sentenced to forty-two months in federal prison, while his mother got three years probation for lying to investigators.

#2: Bill Gates

Once again, we see that going after bigger targets yields unwanted attention. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, for instance, has been the victim of more identity thefts than you’d expect. In 2004, a Bulgarian student known as Alexey K. issued a fake credit card under his name as part of an international forgery crime operation. But that wouldn’t be the only time Gates was compromised, as he was also included in the leak from our previous entry. Even as recently as 2020, Gates, alongside other prominent celebrities on Twitter, had his account hacked to promote a bitcoin scam. Maybe it’s time we all turned on that two-factor authentication.

#1: Will Smith

This wasn’t the first time Will got robbed. Remember that “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” episode? In 2002, Carlos Lomax got his hands on Smith’s social security number and a copy of his credit report. Using this information, he opened up countless accounts, with credit companies and banks, all under Willard C. Smith, the actor’s birth name. He had run up over $30,000 in debt until he was arrested and sentenced to over three years’ prison time. This wasn’t his first rodeo either, having impersonated basketball player Steve Smith (no relation to Will) in 1999. When it was all said and done, Lomax had been ordered to repay over half a million dollars.
Why would times famous people had their identities stolen?