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Frequency of high profile identity theft targets is on the rise

Apr 03, 2012 Karen Umpierre

When the identities of regular Americans are stolen, fraudulent charges can often go unnoticed until the person is contacted by debt collection agents attempting to recover the fraudulent charges. With celebrities, the instances are usually publicized and items purchased using an illegally opened line of credit are often much more expensive due to celebrities having some of the highest salaries in the world. Paul Allen, one of the world's richest men, recently had his identity stolen, reported the New York Daily News. The co-founder of Microsoft's identity was compromised by Brandon Lee Price, a former soldier listed as absent without leave from the Army since June 2010, the source explained, in a series of clever tactics used to evade authorities. The news source detailed that the delinquent soldier was able to change the address of Allen's personal bank account to Price's home in Pittsburgh, and then pretended to be the computer expert during a phone call to the bank to request a new debit card for one he claimed to have lost. The New York Daily News claimed that Price attempted and failed to purchase video games and wire $15,000, though he was able to use Allen's account to pay off a nearly $700 loan to the Armed Forces Bank. Todd Meister, hedge-fund creator and ex-husband of Nicky Hilton, allegedly had his identity stolen by former assistant Renata Shamrakova, who is currently facing charges relating to using Meister's name to open up an American Express card and racking up charges nearing $1 million, the New York Post reported The source described that Meister's team of lawyers claimed the former personal assistant used Meister's private bank account to pay off credit card bills when litigation began in early 2012. Part of the reason celebrities are often targeted is because many people, including teams of assistants, restaurant employees and managers, are often privy to important celebrity financial data. Business Pundit lists Ruben Studdard, Liv Tyler, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet as victims who may have had a run-in with the criminals who stole their personal information to make fraudulent purchases. Personal information such as birth date, mother's maiden name and home address is needed to open a line of consumer credit, identity theft expert Nikki Junker told the New York Daily News, data that is usually online for public figures.