Dead Babies and Stolen Identities

21 Oct

Here’s a hint: if you plan to run for parliament, don’t steal someone’s ID. Apparently David Garrett didn’t get the message. Apparently he needed to clean up his past record and therefore decided he would become someone else. In 1984 he visited a cemetery and found the grave of a child who had been born around the same time as him. He took the child’s name, obtained a birth certificate, and from there was able to reinvent himself complete with passports and a seat in the New Zealand Parliament. Recently however, his chickens came home to roost and his deceit was uncovered.

Writers often use false identity in their stories. There are many ways to accomplish this but visiting an old graveyard to find a dead child is one of the most common methods. It’s not as difficult as it might sound. A child that has been dead for several decades is usually not on any of the governmental roles. If the name and city can be uncovered by sniffing around graveyards, it is a small step to obtain a birth certificate. Often the child’s death and birth are not filed together and therefore no one is the wiser. People need to obtain copies of their birth certificates all the time in this service is readily available. Once a birth certificate is in hand the sky is the limit for building a new persona.

11-1-10: Today I’ve received a couple of comments regarding this post from apparent defenders of Mr. Garrett. The IP address for two of them suggests that they are associated with the Parliament in NZ so the possibility that they are political buddies of Mr. Garrett looms large. The issue was that, according to them, I should not have said that by stealing a dead baby’s ID Mr. Garrett was trying to hide a shady past when indeed he wasn’t. I don’t know what his motives were but from the articles I read he apparently did steal a dead baby’s ID, he did pay a 2002 fine for assault, he did mislead a court about his criminal record in  2005, and he did resign from parliament. So maybe the passport deal wasn’t to hide a “shady past” but the misleading a judge just might have been. Apples and apples. Lying about your past to gain or hold a seat in government is still lying about your past.

And I’m still trying to come up with an innocent reason for needing a fake passport. Any ideas?

My intention with this post was to show fiction writers how one of their characters might change his/her identity. I don’t know Mr. Garrett and in fact had never heard of him until I saw the newspaper article on his having stolen a dead baby’s ID. I in no way meant to harm Mr. Garrett anymore than he already has done himself. Had that been my intention I might have linked this article to Mr. Garrett’s Wikipedia page. But his other “achievements” weren’t germane to the post.

Of course you can’t always trust Wikipedia but then again there is that smoke and fire deal.


6 responses to “Dead Babies and Stolen Identities

  1. kylie brant

    October 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I have used this plot device a time or two 🙂 I’m told by law enforcement that it is getting more difficult to pull off. County courthouses in some states have begun to centralize their data, which makes it easier to cross check for these types of scam. Some LEOs tell me that with identity theft so prevalent these days and so much personal info on computers, it’s increasingly easy to steal a living person’s identity, especially if you don’t need the Social Security number at a job.

    Interested in hearing other thoughts on this!


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      October 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      True. In many larger counties there is a move to scan and store this info but many small counties don’t have the money or staff or interest in this, so old birth and death certificates remain in dusty and long forgotten boxes in the basement or attic or old storage room filing cabinets. So this can still be done. If you find the right small county.


  2. Brenda Coxe

    October 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I can’t speak of other places, but I know here in Delaware they now require picture identification in order to provide a copy of a birth certificate. The practice is fairly new, so while this may have worked in the past it would be more difficult now since you need a driver’s license or state ID to get a copy of the birth certificate and a copy of your birth certificate to get a new driver’s license or state ID. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it would be more difficult–probably would have to get one or the other on the black market.


  3. Mike

    November 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I don’t call people this often, but you are an idiot.
    Your ‘article’ suggests David Garrett stole someone’s identity and then kept that persona. David Garrett is his real name and it’s who he has always been. The child’s identity was used solely to get a passport which in turn was never used; Garrett only did it to see if he could get one past the system. Not a great excuse for a terrible thing to do, but true all the same.

    There is also nothing in his “past record” that needed cleaning up, despite what you wrote. This is wrong and, in fact, defamatory – I suggest you delete it.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      People often change their story once they get caught. Stealing is stealing. And using someone else’s name to get a passport for whatever reason might seem like small potatoes to you but to the rest of us it’s a big deal. Testing the system? Get real. Your honor, I was simply testing the gun to see if it actually would kill someone. Not really my fault. Terribly sorry.

      That said, the story was used as an example for FICTION WITERS on how their characters might use this ploy for plot purposes. In case you missed the point, my BLOG is for FICTION WRITERS. If you or your buddy have a beef take it up with the reporter who outed dear old David.


  4. Heidi

    November 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    FICTION WRITERS use CAPS, they do!.. they do!.. CAPS, to make a POINT!



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