1. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    Questions About Fake Identity

    Discussion in 'Research' started by WB_Vasquez, Jul 18, 2017.

    I have two different questions about the same topic.

    #1. How does one go about faking their identity (as in getting all of the forged paperwork like: birth certificates and social security cards)? Is there an actual process that is known? Searching on Google is giving me conflicting notes to go on.

    #2. How does one go about unraveling a fake identity? For example, what kind of thing leads loved ones/friends to discover that someone they thought they knew is really NOT who they thought they knew at all? What clues lead up to finding out? Is there any way to suspect it? Is there any agencies that can confirm it?
     
  2. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    1. As far as I know (and of course I've never done such a thing because that would illegal and bad) faked documents are more of a 'friend, of a friend, of a friend knows a guy' kind of thing. Or, your character could just steal paperwork from some newly deceased person's apartment or something. Which would be cheaper than the friend's guy, but also could throw some red flags so you'd have to find a new dead person to steal from. Or kill them and become them. That might work.

    The only way a government agency is going to help you do it is if you're in witness protection or something (and in this case you can't be around your family unless they also are in it).

    2. People ALWAYS screw up. No matter how good they are, how much they practice, they will ALWAYS slip. It just depends how good the person they slip to is, and whether or not they're blinded by love or whatever.

    I'm sure somebody knows better than I do though.
     
  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    There are forgers who can make documents, but they
    cost a fortune and may get you caught if the authorities
    know what to look for.
    However, some can make some really good forgeries.
    Though they would have to get in touch with someone
    who knows about the black market to find such people.
    Or use the deep web to find a forger.

    With the advent of facial recognition software,
    fingerprinting, and DNA testing they could break
    their identity. They could even catch them if those
    fail, and use their dental records to identify them
    by taking impressions. Tattoos and other body art
    would also give them away to friends/family, along
    with mannerisms that they would be familiar to.
    Hell even talking to them might give them away.

    Though most that start a 'new' life, tend to leave
    behind family/friends. Makes it less likely they would
    be made. Getting arrested would be a run down of
    the fore mentioned battery of tests to narrow it down.
    So it would be best if they were to leave the country
    entirely if possible, so as to avoid the risk of staying
    in the country and getting caught. The less people
    who know the real them, the better.
     
  4. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    Dental records. I completely forgot about dental records. It would work for this story, because the man that isn't who he seems has just died. When the medical examiner checks his dental records and they don't match the teeth in the dead guy's head, that will open it up. Would the examiner or law enforcement then tell the deceased's family that he wasn't the man that shared his name?

    For reference, he stole an identity over 40 years ago from a reclusive man with no family or friends. He started his family after he started a new life and being that he was not formally a citizen, he was able to slip under the radar for some time.
     
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Why would the ME check the dental records if they think they know who he is though .... generally dental is to identify an unidentified corpse which is too badly decomposed for finger prints.

    Also if he stole his identity 40 years ago from a recluse the available dental records will match the body because he'll be the one having dental treatment under that name
     
    Trish and Shadowfax like this.
  6. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Absolutely!

    Identity theft is commonplace enough nowadays.

    In Day of the Jackal, the assassin finds somebody who died young but would be about his age had he lived, and then applies for a copy birth certificate, then applies for a passport in the dead child's name. Nowadays that wouldn't work because computers also check whether there's a death certificate for that person. 40 years ago, I think it would still have worked. But, in the UK at least, you don't literally need documentation. You would probably want a driving licence...

    To get your first provisional driving licence online for a moped, motorbike or car you must:

    • be at least 15 years and 9 months old
    • be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away
    • provide an identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport
    • provide addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years
    • pay £34 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card
    • have your National Insurance number if known
    ...so you'd probably need to get a birth certificate. I'm not sure whether driving licences are also subject to death of applicant checks - probably are now, but not back then. After that, credit cards and the like would be a shoo-in.

    If relatives of the dead child (RDCs) haven't turned up in the forty years since the character assumed the identity, I can't see them turning up now, so I don't see why the identity would be discovered.

    Incidentally, why would the body be examined post-mortem? UK practice is that a doctor issues a death certificate. Only if he is unable to certify as to cause of death would a PM be held. If the deceased had a pre-existing condition that could explain the death, no PM. If there is sufficient medical intervention pre-death, no PM (My mother-in-law died of a heart attack. Ambulance attended about an hour before death, took readings, took her to hospital and she died on the way. No PM)

    You could write it that RDCs turn up hoping to benefit from his will, but why would they even know? Even if the survivors take out an advert in the paper to announce the death, odds are that RDCs won't be scouring the paper, and if they do read it, won't think it affects them unless it's a very uncommon name. And the advert is likely to be only in the local paper, and first thing I'd do if I adopted an identity is move away from the area.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The most obvious way to find out he was faking after his death is for him to admit it post mortem in a "to be opened in the event of my death" type way
     
  8. RWK

    RWK Member

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    The key is the period you are attempting to do this in. Pre-9/11 it wasn't that hard for someone with time, money, and a good working knowledge of the system.

    Post-9/11 it is extremely difficult to pull off. You have got at least three Federal agencies actively looking for signs of faked IDs from the pre-9/11 period (not solely, but who have measurable resources devoted to that). State & local police are battling ID theft which means they now have the tools to hunt false identities of the sort you suggest.

    Nearly every state has drastically raised the bar on physical standards for IDs.

    In no small part, the commercial use of birth and death records for ancestry tracking has vastly diminished the pool of possible backgrounds.

    So, #1: interestingly, answering this question accurately is a potential felony, a quick trip to a no-fly list, and legal grounds for an investigation by DHS. I will simply say that for a civilian, there is at best a one in ten chance that you could acquire paperwork that would survive a routine traffic stop.

    #2: The devil is in the details. Unless the subject got the fake identity at age 5, their background is a lie. Where are childhood photos? School pictures? Yearbooks? Net footprint? A private investigator or just someone with free time and a knowledge of questions to ask can unravel it with simple legwork.

    There are commercial software services which, for a fee, will track a person by credit history, phone numbers, addresses, and numerous other aspects. There will be credit and phone records for them going back years. You can literally track a person's history across the nation.

    For the stumble-upon scenario, credit history is the simplest avenue. You are not going to be able to buy a background history with a credit history.

    Education is another avenue. A real life example that I dealt with a few years ago was when a wife decided to surprise hubby by buying his old high school annual, which he claimed had been lost in a move. Lo and behold, when she looked up his picture, it wasn't a match.

    In this day and age buying documents doesn't mean anything, because even a traffic stop check looks at history. And histories can't be faked by civilians.
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Identity theft is the answer to most of those things - if you steal (actually clone) somesones identity then you don't need to worry about faking a history because their history is real... the trouble is that if they commit crimes etc those could come home to roost with you as well. (and if you a sensible and don't run up unpaid debt they might never know)

    The other option is to steal/forge the identity in a foreign country and use that to build an identity in the US .... thee are countries where getting a passport is as simple as bribing a few officials.... if you then came to the states on that passport and used it as a basis for your ID, drivers licence, bank accounts etc you'd be good
     
  10. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    My character becomes very poor when he leaves his life of crime behind and flees to a new country. He has never been to a dentist in his adult life because he makes very little money and works long hours. The record would have still matched the original identity. I really should have specified that, sorry.
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    How would they even know where to look for dental records (like say this is america, and you've got a guy called bob smith..... are you really going to start calling round dentists in the whole country and asking for the dental records of all the bob, rob, and robert smiths they have on record ? )- It's a daft idea

    Dental ID is for things like confirming the identity of a decomposed corpse when someone comes forward saying "this is my daughter" or identifying victims in a fire situation when you already have a fair idea who they are
     
  12. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    That's a good possible avenue. After the man's death, I'm planning to have a can of worms open up about how he is not really (his name), which progresses the series farther down the rabbit hole. I just need to find a way to have his family find out that that makes sense. The guy was in his late 60s when he died in his daughter's home. I was thinking a medical examination might come up, being that he was dead for several hours while everyone in the household was out at work or school. But I'm not sure. I've not got a lot of experience with the process that happens between death and burial.

    @big soft moose,
    That makes sense. The reclusive man wouldn't have a lot by means of medical records. I'm just unsure of how to go about the missing identity coming to the surface. The character keeps his secret for the duration of his life after he dies, I'm not sold on how to go about his secrets coming out.
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd say forget about them finding out via the guy whos identity he stole - maybe its more a case of his past catching up to him. If he was wanted for a sufficiently serious offence before he went underground his finger prints etc could be on record... then you need a reason for the ME to run his finger prints because they wouldnt usually when identity of a corpse isnt in doubt

    If he died in a car wreck and is disfigured beyond easy ID they might run his finger prints to check that he is who they think he is, and then be amazed to find that actually he's someone from the wanted list instead
     
  14. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Think of the things you will need for a job, unless you are willing to be a day laborer paid in cash... starting with (in the US) a Social Security number, some other form of ID, and some verifiable background, like references, education, past jobs, etc. Nevertheless, people with a talent for conning others can put on a good show, and maybe the employer won't check. But the SSAN and some kind of ID is a must. Make sure you know what the particular state requires for a driver's license. If you have a choice of states, pick one where that is fairly easy.
     
  15. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    My character is an alcoholic, and after his wife dies he ups his drinking game quite a bit. I was planning to have him die at home due to generally poor self-care. But perhaps it would be better to have him wreck his car whilst drunk. That may very well mess his face up enough to where fingerprinting would be run.
     
  16. RWK

    RWK Member

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    If the subject had dental work, the ME's office can send out xrays through the dental association. You can reach literally thousands of dentists for the price of an e-mail.

    Of course, nothing requires a dentist to study such offerings, but they do turn up IDs pretty regularly.

    It helps if what was done falls under the heading of a dental surgery, because they are far fewer in number and more inclined to recognize their handiwork.
     
  17. RWK

    RWK Member

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    It varies from state to state, but as a general rule the police will respond, and if anything looks out of place, the Justice of the Peace will respond and either order an autopsy or just sign off on the death certificate. Given that an autopsy costs about $7000 it is not automatic.

    If an autopsy is ordered, then the police will conduct a basic investigation. This is where you have a possible opening for an inconsistency between your subject's fake history and real life to expose itself.

    To give a RL example, we had a guy die under somewhat odd circumstances (turned out to be a natural death). But during the autopsy the ME noted an old bullet wound that had healed without professional treatment.

    It turned out the guy had been a criminal in his youth, caught a bullet, did some time. He was still using his real name, but his family had no idea of that part of his life.
     
  18. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    If my character did end up dying at home, but was dead almost all day (10 hours or so because no one in his family was at home) before anybody noticed him, would that appear out of place? Maybe if he died in an odd position or in a weird place in the house? If he had a heart attack and knocked some items and furniture around during it, would that add to the out of place appearance? Perhaps injuring himself during his fall enough to bleed would look out of place?
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I seem to remember that Bones used a genetically-based illness for this once--a child had an illness that they could only have if both parents also had it, or some such thing. (Though the gene logic seems wrong somehow, to require both parents to display the disease, rather than perhaps just having the recessive gene...)
     
  20. RWK

    RWK Member

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    It is not unusual for people not to be discovered until the neighbors notice the smell.

    How about having him die behind the wheel, say a heart attack as he pulled into a parking lot so his car rolls into another vehicle or a structure (lightly)? That would require an autopsy.

    If he must die at home, have a household accident, say electrocuted by a faulty appliance he was trying to repair, or he was trying to open a plastic package with a knife, braced it against his leg, and hit the femoral artery?

    An accident with a firearm is always good for interest.

    Or he came home to find his house burgled (the actors were gone) and he had a heart attack and before he could call the police. That one will really ramp up an investigation until the autopsy comes in.
     
  21. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    That would be perfect. I have several pages-worth (literally) of accidents for potential characters. This would be an awesome way for me to introduce bumbling hazards and unfortunate coincidences (like the heart attack when the burglar shows up one). Plus, since he is frequently drunk, it would only make an accident that much easier.
     
  22. RWK

    RWK Member

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    Glad to help.
     
  23. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    They were resting between jobs, OK?

    To add to the "death at home" scenarios.

    My father-in-law died of viral pneumonia (nicknamed The Old Man's Friend because it's relatively quick and painless). Everyone else went to bed. When they came down in the morning, he'd fallen off his armchair and was lying on the floor. With no pre-existing condition, there had to be a PM to establish cause of death.
     
  24. WB_Vasquez

    WB_Vasquez Member

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    Thank you for the information Shadowfax. This helps. I'm sorry about your FIL though.
     
  25. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I could see a scenario whereby, though a stroke of luck, he comes across a person who has just died in a remote area (say, while camping) and to whom he bears some resemblance. He takes the person's wallet, with driver's license and social security card intact, and assumes his identity after disposing of the body. If the dead person didn't have any legal issues (outstanding debts, warrants, or whatever), the imposter could presumable go on for an indefinite time.

    As for his true identity being discovered after his death, that could also come by chance ... somebody noticing that such-and-such a person has died, and remembering that they used to be college chums or Army buddies or whatever. Curiosity prompts him to attend the funeral, and he sees that the deceased is not his old friend after all, even though the names and ages match. He smells a rat ...
     

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