Change Identity

Meet Mr. Demara - Master Ghoster - Updated November 8, 2016

The Master Ghoster

Ferdinand Waldo Demara was the master of new identity ghosting. In his long and fascinating life he successfully posed as a doctor, a monk, a civil engineer, a psychologist, a lawyer, a sheriff’s deputy, and of all things - a prison warden. His exploits were so incredible they actually made a major Hollywood movie about his life that starred Tony Curtis entitled “The Great Imposter”.

Demara began his long identity shifting career by ghosting the identity of an Army buddy, Anthony Ignolia. Then he promptly went AWOL. He faked a suicide and borrowed yet another new identity, Robert Linton French and assumed the man’s role as a psychologist and went on to teach psychology classes at a Pennsylvania college!

Later while studying at a seminar he met a physician named Dr. Joseph C. Cyr, assumed his identity and went on to work as a trauma surgeon aboard a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer during the Korean War. He performed so many surgeries that when his deception was brought to the attention of his commanding officer, he flatly refused to believe it!

Demara collected identities the way other people collect stamps. When he met an interesting individual, or got himself in a jam, he was always ready to grab a person's credentials and live that person’s life – assuming whatever role it demanded.  

Wallace Ford

Here's another ghoster. The successful American film actor Wallace Ford actually started out life as Samuel Jones born in England. At the tender age of 15 Jones became a hobo riding the rails of Canada and the U.S.

During an accident a close friend named Wallace Ford suffered a fatal injury. Jones assumed his name and went on to become a successful film actor. Shortly before his death in 1966 he finally released the details of his deception.

You can always depend on obituaries to provide the personal data you need to help find a new identity. Also, if you search around the web you’ll no doubt find sites that will for a fee obtain personal information on just about anyone including their social security number.

The Social Security Administration publishes a Death Index that is chocked full of dead people along with their assigned social security numbers.

There are also legacy sites that list tributes to the dearly departed posted by friends and families. These sites are usually loaded with personal details that any ghoster would find extremely useful.

Recently the state of Indiana did a check and discovered to their dismay that in one year over 100 Indiana driver’s licenses had been issued to deceased persons. Individuals can get away with this because most families fail to notify the social security administration when a loved one dies. And most also don't bother to notify the three largest credit reporting agencies.

Obtain a copy of the deceased’s credit file from time to time to ensure that no one else is using it. If unusual activity is found, the police and the relevant creditors should be immediately notified and provided with copies of the individual’s death certificate.

The obituary that’s published in the paper should not contain too much information. The birth date of the individual should be eliminated as should their place of birth and their last known street address. Their parent’s names are also useful to anyone seeking a copy of their birth certificate so also leave them out. The mother's maiden name is often used as a secure password for banking purposes, something the identity thieves know only too well.

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