A few of the Latest Identity Theft Stories: The Strange, Bizarre & Real

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Courtney Love: Smells like N.J. identity theft

Con men reputedly bought a $3.2 million mansion in New Jersey last year using the social security number of the Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, according to the late rocker's wife, Courtney Love.

Love told a London newspaper Thursday that grifters have pillaged Cobain's estate of about $60 million since 2003.

"I knew it had been going on since when I went cuckoo - bananas - in 2003. It was fraud after fraud," Love told The Sun. "But nobody believed me until now."

She reported the alleged thefts last week to the Los Angeles police.

"I did a check on my deceased husband's social security number and he has a house in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He bought it last year," she said.

"I would like to know how," Love said. "He should probably get his a-- back home if that is the case."

Officials in Middlesex County, where New Brunswick is located, could not be reached this morning for comment.

Cobain committed suicide in April 1994. His estate continues to gross about $10 million a year.

Love, 43, also claimed that the identity thieves have collected 188 credit cards that were issued in her name.

Bizarre Identity Theft Case Revealed

Identity theft is a huge problem in the United States, and a case uncovered this week in Wichita proves just how easy it is for people to be taken advantage of.

Wichita Police have arrested a man and a woman after the man walked into a patrol substation and reported that he was an undercover agent who had assumed the identity of someone else.

Sergeant Bruce Watts says the man explained where he was living, so officers later went to the home in the 600 block of South Bluff to check it out. They discovered a very strange situation.

The same man who reported the incident the day before answered the door when the officers knocked. They realized he was living there with his wife. Neither were supposed to be there.

"These people had broken into this house," says Sergeant Bruce Watts. "They assumed the owner's identity, got credit cards, hooked up satellite TV, phone service, ordered new flat screen TVs, new laptops, even changed the locks and put up a new mailbox."

Watts says the man who owns the house has been gone for several months taking care of his sick mother in another town.

Meanwhile, neighbors on the street just thought someone new had moved in.

"These people had invited the neighbors over for dinner," Watts says. "They thought they were new homeowners or new renters and said that they were pleasant people."


One man's struggle to reclaim his good name

Jeff Jones doesn't know where it happened, how it happened or when it happened.

All the Bel Air sales rep knows for sure is that someone swiped his Social Security number more than a year ago and opened Verizon Wireless and online accounts in his name 68 miles down the road in Washington.

Discovering the bad act by chance in January 2007, Jones quickly found out how a real case of identity theft can turn your world upside down. MORE

I use the word "real" because a lot of the estimated 7 million to 10 million cases of so-called identity theft reported each year really involve fraud - unauthorized charges showing up on your credit or debit card and the like. True identity theft occurs when someone uses your SSN, home address, driver's license or other personal data to commit fraud and open a new credit card account, take out loans, rent or buy cars and homes, or even get medical treatment at your expense.

The first you'll discover easily enough when you check your credit card bills or bank account, and federal rules protect you from being held liable in most cases. The other could go unnoticed for a long time - until you're denied credit when you need it most.

One is an irritant. The other, a nightmare.

"It was beyond hard and so frustrating," Jones, 28, said about his 10-month ordeal to take his identity back.


38 arrested in Queens-based fake credit-card ring

New York police special investigators say they broke up a stolen credit card ring in Queens yesterday, arresting 38 people across the city and Long Island who printed phony credit cards with account numbers of American consumers whose numbers were stolen by a computer hacker in China.

The criminal enterprise, dubbed by the NYPD "The House of Cards," produced 3,000 fake credit cards a month, as well as phony driver's licenses from New York, Illinois and Washington, police said. It affected tens of thousands of customers, police said. MORE

An Omaha woman whose identity was stolen by a cousin five years still finds herself being victimized.

Rachel Galvan is days away from realizing her dream. "To be a nurse, take care of kids." Rachel worries about getting her nursing license and a job if court records are misdiagnosed. "It wasn't me, she did something wrong, this should go onto her."

Five years ago a cousin stole Rachel's identity and used her name when arrested on three charges. Proof of the ID theft has erased Rachel's name from law enforcement criminal records, but it remains on the state court computer for past filings. You have to wonder, though it says "dismissed," how an employer might react.

Nick Jasa runs One Source, a leading background checker for companies hiring new employees. "When you see 'dismissed' you think plea agreement or bargain, maybe turned the other guy in, so it will influence an employer, so it's very unfortunate for her it's on her report." MORE


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