In this, the digital age, it’s not uncommon for people to worry about their identities being stolen. Someone manages to access your personal information and, suddenly, your bank account is empty, your credit card company is calling you, asking about charges you never made, and your entire world seems to be turned upside down. Identity theft is a serious crime; it can ruin a person’s reputation, besides making their financial future difficult. However, it is a common enough occurrence – heck, there’s even a motion picture comedy entitled, “Identity Thief” which pokes fun at the fact that this kind of crime is so widespread – we can all relate (see 18 US Code §1028A).
But, what happens when the person whose identity has been stolen is a missing child? Then, the crime of identity theft takes on a new and more disturbing tone. Yet, that’s exactly what 47-year-old Behzad Talai Mofrad has done – at least twice. His first offense was stealing the identity of Kevin Collins, who was abducted in 1984. This was a mistake as Collins’s kidnapping gained national attention back in the ‘80s and he was one of the first missing children to appear on the back of milk cartons across the country. Mofrad then determined to steal the identity of then 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling, another victim of abduction in 1989. Between the two incidences, Mofrad used these missing children’s identities to purchase a car, obtain false identification documents, and to get a fake passport. He has also been charged with several counts of wire fraud in connection to these cases and will spend at least 20 years in prison for each accusation of wire fraud and 2 years for each identity theft.