PDA

View Full Version : Is this plausible?



The_Ink_Goddess
10-26-2011, 01:43 AM
Okay, so we all know the usual drill: you can make anything plausible if you write it well enough. But...I think we can all agree that there is such a thing as demanding too much from your reader.

I write YA. My protaganist is a thief/con artist who generally uses her young/innocent/naive act to fool people. She's stolen this girl's identity and has been using her name for two years. All is well until the protag's real mother shows up, demanding something. What is this something, you MAY WELL ASK? *dramatically adjusts glasses*

She wants to know who her daughter stole the identity from, and how. The rationale behind this is that, while it's a like-mother-like-daughter situation (they're both thieves, neither of them are particularly good people and they both have the mindset of going into something for all they can get), but the mother is kind of a crappy thief -- she's spent time in prison for credit card theft and stuff. She thinks that, if her daughter can get away with sponging off people with a fake name and life, then why can't she? It will be established that, while they're both smart, they're not particularly intelligent.

But is this plausible? Is it too easily to 'ghost' as somebody? Is this a remotely realistic demand to make of the daughter, and if not, what would be more realistic? Extortion? ...something else?

waylander
10-26-2011, 02:11 AM
This suggests it is easy enough for a smart kid to beat the system
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/money/banking/mum-sues-banks-over-sons-ebay-scam/story-e6frezc9-1226174880402

sparkypants
10-26-2011, 02:12 AM
I don't think it isn't plausible, we're always hearing about identity theft in the news, so could definitely happen.

But two years is quite a long time for the person who's identity was stolen not to notice something, unless of course they're dead? There're quite a few news stories of people using dead peoples identities for long periods of time. I guess it depends on what the MC is doing with the identity. If she's just living a fairly normal, chilled out life then be less likely people will find out.

If the character's are as you describe them, it'd almost be unrealistic that the mum wouldn't try and get in on the act! Though if they're not that close, I'm not sure how it would work that she'd know that's what her daughter had done... does that make sense?

Hope this helps!

Jack M Kaiser
10-26-2011, 02:47 AM
I don't think it isn't plausible, we're always hearing about identity theft in the news, so could definitely happen.

But two years is quite a long time for the person who's identity was stolen not to notice something, unless of course they're dead? There're quite a few news stories of people using dead peoples identities for long periods of time. I guess it depends on what the MC is doing with the identity. If she's just living a fairly normal, chilled out life then be less likely people will find out.

If the character's are as you describe them, it'd almost be unrealistic that the mum wouldn't try and get in on the act! Though if they're not that close, I'm not sure how it would work that she'd know that's what her daughter had done... does that make sense?

Hope this helps!
Even if the person was dead it would send up red flags, I know from experience. A lady tried to use my daughter's identity to open a charge account at a clothing store and I got a call from that store. You see my daughter died a few years before that at the age of 2 months. The way the store explained it was that they ran the ran the name and SSN and it came back with my daughter's info.
In my humble opinion I don't think that it would work that way, but to go under an assumed name would. There are tons of ways to make up a new identity. There are books out there on how to do it and plenty of people who are geniuses at making fake ID and SS cards.

jclarkdawe
10-26-2011, 04:01 AM
I think for what you want to do, it won't work. Faking an identity for a couple of years isn't the problem. That really isn't difficult, and has happened.

But here's where you run into a problem. For how long can you get credit cards, spend them out, and keep going that way before you destroy the person's credit? Because either someone is paying the bills, which is going to alert someone, or the bills aren't going to be paid, in which case their credit is going to be trashed sooner or later.

So I don't think just using one ID for a two year period works. But why not just having a new identity every month? Bottom line is someone like this has to keep drifting, finding new targets.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

L.C. Blackwell
10-26-2011, 07:45 AM
Jim's right that it wouldn't work if she were only living off the other person's credit cards.

Now, if she had other sources of income, applied for a card in the target's name, and paid the bills on it herself, she could probably pull it off unless they actually ran their own credit report and the new card came up on it.

In other words, she could live as someone else for that long (possibly), but not off someone else for that long (probably). A more plausible con game would be to ingratiate herself with a wealthy and elderly person whose mental capacity is slowly fading.

frimble3
10-26-2011, 09:57 AM
Jim's right that it wouldn't work if she were only living off the other person's credit cards.

Now, if she had other sources of income, applied for a card in the target's name, and paid the bills on it herself, she could probably pull it off unless they actually ran their own credit report and the new card came up on it.

In other words, she could live as someone else for that long (possibly), but not off someone else for that long (probably). A more plausible con game would be to ingratiate herself with a wealthy and elderly person whose mental capacity is slowly fading.
It could almost work if she stole the identity of someone who's bills were being paid for them, and she didn't spend an outlandish amount. Say, a divorced woman who had no contact with her ex aside from those alimony cheques that were direct-deposited into her account. Or, the wealthy, elderly person LC Blackwell suggested. Or, a non-wealthy pensioner. Every now and then a story hits the news about someone who died, and the death was covered up so the pension money would keep coming. Or even a college student who's estranged parent is paying the bills in hopes of rebuilding a relationship.

The_Ink_Goddess
10-26-2011, 03:58 PM
In other words, she could live as someone else for that long (possibly), but not off someone else for that long (probably).

Thank you, guys, you've shown me that I need to be clearer :)

She's stolen the identity of - actually quite like frimble3 said - a teenager who has run away from her rich family, who brags about starting anew and living off her own work, because she's naive and arrogant at the same time. But it's not a worry about the 'original' girl figuring out what the MC has done, because she's dead. (The main character - possibly accidentally, possibly not - killed her.)

For a while, the MC actually impersonates the original specifically - she uses her cards and goes on a spending spree and, for a while, the parents pay the bills without looking too closely. I was thinking that she could also send them e-mails and stuff from all over the place under the guise of being their daughter. But it starts to get a little uncomfortable for her when they start desperately wanting 'her' to call them and come see them, so she breaks off all contacts, cuts up the cards and disappears with just the name intact.

jclarkdawe
10-26-2011, 04:38 PM
Thank you, guys, you've shown me that I need to be clearer :)

She's stolen the identity of - actually quite like frimble3 said - a teenager who has run away from her rich family, who brags about starting anew and living off her own work, because she's naive and arrogant at the same time. But it's not a worry about the 'original' girl figuring out what the MC has done, because she's dead. (The main character - possibly accidentally, possibly not - killed her.)

For a while, the MC actually impersonates the original specifically - she uses her cards and goes on a spending spree and, for a while, the parents pay the bills without looking too closely. I was thinking that she could also send them e-mails and stuff from all over the place under the guise of being their daughter. But it starts to get a little uncomfortable for her when they start desperately wanting 'her' to call them and come see them, so she breaks off all contacts, cuts up the cards and disappears with just the name intact.

That works. However, when she gets caught by the police, it would be next to impossible to prove to a jury that she is not guilty of murder, no matter how 'accidental' the death is.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Mark G
10-29-2011, 02:38 AM
It's totally plausible, and I've seen this type of theme in other stories where "less successful" parents try to follow the success their children achieve after leaving the nest.

Cherise Kelley
10-29-2011, 04:20 AM
It's totally plausible, and I've seen this type of theme in other stories where "less successful" parents try to follow the success their children achieve after leaving the nest.


I agree.

In fact, I have known people in real life whose own parents scammed them. Slightly different, but even more distasteful. :(

lastlittlebird
10-29-2011, 04:20 AM
In terms of the plausibility of the mother wanting to know how the daughter is doing it...
I think that would work, even if they were at roughly the same level of "thief" ability, just because of the generation gap and the fact that the mother was in prison for a while... she might not be hip to all the new and wacky technology we have at the moment, something that an identity thief would definitely need to stay on top of. That could be the aspect that she needs help with.