My Dead Brother’s Stolen Identity

Tim Gebauer
3 min readJan 23, 2021
Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash

I’m watching a Dateline episode that touches on infant stolen identity. In the episode, a suspected murderer had stolen the identity of a child that had died at two years old.

Thieves of these type troll cemeteries looking for children that had passed that were born a year or two on either side of their actual birth. They do some research and are in business.

It was heart-wrenching to see the child’s father describe how devastating it was to hear from police that his son had been believed to be alive and was wanted. It took him right back to that tragic death.

This took me back to my family’s experience with one of my brothers that passed away at seven years old from Leukemia. Someone had tried to take on his identity. It took our whole family back to those dark days around his passing just as it had this gentleman.

It is hard to describe the feeling. It wasn’t like the theft of property, it felt like a personal violation. It was like the theft of memories and a piece of each of us. It happened years ago, it still upsets me to think about it.

This dirt bag was just trying to escape debt and may have had some idea of faking his death. He had applied for a social security number in what would have been my brother’s thirties. He had some story about living in rural Alaska all this time and hadn’t needed one. He was fuzzy on what brought him to the US Midwest after all this time. This immediately raised flags with the administration who requested a certified birth certificate.

He must have studied because he knew what county in a different state to send his request to. Lucky for us my aunt was the county recorder there. Imagine her reaction to receiving a birth certificate request from a person who’s battle with cancer she experienced and who’s funeral she had attended. But for that break, he would have likely succeeded.

After an investigation, authorities figured out who this person really was. They set up a sting to arrest him when he picked up the card. They refused to mail it to him insisting he pick the card up in person at an appointed time. He kept rescheduling and eventually gave up. He must have gotten wind something was going on.

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Tim Gebauer

Thrift and retail blogger. Helping small business succeed. Connect on linkedIn, my thrift reseller blog thethrifter or my amazon thrift merchandising e-book.