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Florida man accused of posing as dead man for 20 years

Now that much of our personal information is stored somewhere on the internet, authorities in Florida have increasingly issued charges of identity theft against residents. Identity theft is a type of theft crime in which the offender misuses another person's identifying information, such as a Social Security number or credit history, in some way.

It is rare for authorities to claim that an identity thief was as committed to the role as a Florida man allegedly was. The Pasco County Sheriff recently claimed that a man arrested for identity theft has been posing as another man for around 20 years.

According to the sheriff, the suspect used the second man's death certificate to obtain a birth certificate in Ohio. A story by WTSP-TV does not explain exactly how this was allegedly accomplished. Eventually, the suspect allegedly obtained a driver's license in Florida, and moved to Zephyrhills, where he has lived for 20 years with his family.

The sheriff said the ruse was discovered when the deceased man's nephew conducted an online genealogy search. Why the suspect allegedly assumed the other man's identity is not clear. His former wife claims he was under investigation for embezzlement at one point.

Charges of identity theft or another white-collar crime can result in prison time and hefty fines. If you have been charged, make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you. Depending on the facts, it may be possible to avoid incarceration, have the case dismissed, or take the case to trial if the defense is strong.