Was the oldest human guilty of deceased identity fraud?

An audacious identity fraud scandal has potentially been uncovered. The longest-lived human in history – French-woman Jeanne Calment, who lived until 122 years and 164 days until her death in 1997 – may not be who she said she was.

A new research paper by Russian mathematician, Nikolay Zak, of the Moscow Society of Naturalists at the Moscow State University claims that the supercentenarian may actually have died before her 100th birthday, having stolen the identity of her deceased mother, to avoid inheritance tax. If this is the case she is actually Yvonne Calment, and assumed the identity of her mother in 1934. This would make her just 99 years old at the time of her death.

In his paper Mr Zak offers a number of discrepancies as proof of his claims, including cognitive exams Ms Calment performed in her final years, in which she scored at a similar level to test subjects in their 80s and 90s. He also cited apparent changes to the shape of her ears and forehead compared to photographs of her early life, as well as data showing her height had reduced far less than the shrinking seen in other supercentenarians.

Whether Jeanne is actually Yvonne remains to be seen – but what is clear, is that it is not just criminal gangs that pray on the deceased to steal their identities – identity theft can come in a number of guises – even from seemingly normal people from any walk of life, for whatever reason. Whilst these cases are the exception rather than the rule it demonstrates the importance for organisations to protect themselves against potential fraudulent activity relating to customers that may be deceased. Ms Calment potentially could have defrauded organisations for a staggering 63 years! It is well known that deceased identity fraud, by its nature, takes much longer to be detected than the takeover of a living person’s identity. This is why it is such as attractive prospect for unscrupulous individuals looking to make financial gain using the personal information of someone that has died.

For further information on how to stop deceased identify fraud please contact us on 01274 53 88 21