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Posted in : Divorce Scams

Victims of False Identity

False Identities and Their Potential Consequences

You see it in movies – a person decides to leave their former life behind and assume another identity.  While this may seem like a good idea in the real world, especially if you find yourself deep in debt or trying to escape an abusive relationship, there can be consequences if you try and assume a false identity.  Unless you are doing so under government supervision, such as in the case of the witness protection program or other programs, assuming a false identity can lead to lifelong consequences.

In the state of Florida, you could be charged with a felony.  Florida statute section 322.212 makes it a felony to make, sell, or possess a false identification card.  While this crime is usually committed by those under 21 in order to get into a bar or purchase alcohol, it can also apply to those who create false identities for other purposes, such as committing bigamy.

With today’s technology, it is relatively easy to make or obtain a false ID despite advances in security features.  Photo imaging software makes it simple to take a photo with a backdrop and place it onto a fake identification card.  Online databases for birth and death certificates that are for the public good can be exploited for identity theft purposes.

Recently, a Florida man was discovered to have been pretending to be someone else for more than 20 years.  His wife was even unaware of the deception.  This is according to Pasco County Deputies.

63-year-old Richard Hoagland decided in 1992 that he no longer wanted to be Richard Hoagland.  This was after two marriages that ended in failure and four children.  According to his second wife, he just went missing one day.

After leaving his wife, Hoagland took up residence with a man whose son was deceased.  Hoagland found the son’s death certificate and used it to apply for a new birth certificate in Ohio.  Ohio mailed the birth certificate and Hoagland used that to apply via mail for an Alabama driver’s license.  Once he received the Alabama driver’s license, he used that to apply for a Florida driver’s license.

Fast forward a few years, and Hoagland, having assumed the identity of Terry Symansky, remarried and settled in Zephyrhills.  He owned several properties that he rented out and also lived in the same neighborhood as those properties with his wife and teenage son.

Hoagland was discovered when a nephew began digging into Ancestry.com.  He discovered information about his “uncle” on Google, including the fact that he was now a pilot.  The family then contacted police, who in turn, contacted the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.

Officers showed up to arrest Hoagland and told his wife everything.

Locally, Hoagland has been charged with identity theft.  However, federal authorities were notified, and more charges may be on the horizon.

If you are caught using a fake ID, whether it is to buy alcohol while underage, or to assume a new identity, you can face up to a year in prison for a misdemeanor charge.  If the charge is a felony, you can face up to ten years in prison.  Then, there are the fines you may have to pay if convicted.  Misdemeanor offenses can result in a fine of up to $1000, but a felony charge can result in a fine of up to $100,000.

Being a victim of false identity is no joke. If you have married someone who has been working under a false identity, it’s time to talk with an experienced Florida family law attorney like Gustavo Frances.  There are many options available to you, and the first step is to call for your free consultation.


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