Crime

Ancestry.com Search Uncovers 20 Years Of Identity Theft

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Richard HoaglandRichard Hoagland

An Indiana man who was reported missing 25 years ago and declared dead in 2003 has been living in Florida and using the identity of a dead man.

Richard Hoagland, 63, had a wife and four children from two different marriages when he disappeared from Indiana in the early 1990s, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

His second wife in Indiana said Hoagland told her he was wanted by the FBI for stealing millions of dollars and had to disappear. She thought he was dead.

However, he was not dead, and was living under the name Terry Jude Symansky in Zephyrhills, Florida, with a woman he married in 1995 and their now teenage son.

The real Symansky drowned in 1991. Hoagland reportedly knew his father.

Hoagland told deputies he fled Indiana to get away from his second wife.

"This is a selfish coward," Pasco sheriff Chris Nocco said. "This is a person who has lived his life destroying others."

Hoagland’s current family was shocked to hear he had been using a dead man’s identity.

His wife Mary reportedly found his real identification documents in a briefcase in the attic, a deed to Louisiana property he purchased in 2015 and keys to a storage unit.

But she was not the one to uncover his fraudulent activity; it was discovered due to an Ancestry.com search.

A nephew of the real Symansky was working on a family project and found his deceased uncle on Ancestry.com with a marriage license.

It took three years before the Symansky family decided to tell the authorities of his findings because they feared the imposter may come after them.

Hoagland was living a normal life out in the open before his identity theft was uncovered. He even obtained a pilot’s license under Symansky’s name.

In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration included him in their prestigious Airmen Certification Database because he met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the organization.

"Zephyrhills-based pilot sets positive example," the Aviation Business Gazette said in its headline when the news was shared.

Hoagland was arrested and charged with fraudulent use of personal information. He may face additional charges, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Aviation Business Gazette / Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times

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