Mark Cuban & Tommy Hilfiger Are Latest Identity Theft Victims

Mark Cuban & Tommy Hilfiger are the latest victims of identity theft.

The UPI is reporting that a 23 year-old New York man – Gregory Mortel – was able to have credit cards issued to him using the names of famous people, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, clothing mogul Tommy Hilfiger, and George Hornig, the chief operating officer of investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston.

I’m wondering why a thief like Mortel chose to steal the identity of rich & famous people. Certainly their wealth would enable a sizable credit line via American Express, but wouldn’t he worry that the faces of Cuban and Hilfiger would be instantly recognizable when he tried to use the credit card?

Evidently not…

Mr. Mortel was brazen enough to boast that he would never be punished. Here’s what he had to say:

The source said investigators had Hornig call Mortel’s cell phone and the suspect said during the call, which was recorded by police, that “nobody will ever be able to trace him to any wrongdoing.”


Why Wasn’t He Caught Earlier?

We obviously have a problem with our credit system when virtually anyone is able to gather and use someone’s financial information to open new credit accounts and use them openly – especially when the victims involved are famous and have very recognizable faces.

Did anyone ask him about his name? Tommy Hilfiger is not a common name. Surely someone at the Equinox gym – where he was picked up by the police while getting a spa treatment (paid for via an American Express issued to Tommy Hilfiger) – should have asked him about having a name identical to a very public figure. Did they even look at the name?

UPDATED: Kate Weinberg, the manager of the Equinox gym, has set the record straight regarding the credit card used by Mr. Mortel. Evidently it was issued by Amex to Gregory Mortel but used the same number as Tommy Hilfiger’s card. We apologize to the staff of the Equinox gym for our error in assuming they had not checked the signature on the card. See all of Ms. Weinberg’s text in the comments below.

It reminds me of a hilarious experiment by John Hargrave on where he signed his credit card receipts in all kinds of ridiculous ways, just to see if anyone would notice.

Here’s a sillier example – signing as Shamu on a visit to New England Aquarium:

Hargrave describes his experience like this:

Now, someone should have caught this. First of all, everyone knows that Shamu works at Sea World. Second, how could Shamu accurately render a scale drawing of himself? That kind of penmanship would be unlikely from a creature using only its vestigial fins.

No one noticed. No one cared. No one said a thing.

That’s why scammers like Gregory Mortel have no fear when it comes to ruining people’s lives. It’s up to us to protect ourselves. No one else is going to do it.

Author: Richard Patterson

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