We’ve all been exhorted countless times to guard our credit card numbers and come up with passwords better than “password.” Somehow, the message doesn’t always stick, and identity theft remains an intractable problem, with about 9 million U.S. cases last year.
Perhaps to more fully convey the drastic dangers of identity theft—and scare the pants of you in the process—Febelfin, the federation of Belgium’s financial sector, has produced a public service announcement that doubles as a terrifying reality-TV prank.
The title, “See how easily freaks can take over your life,” should give you a sense of what you’re about to experience. A bald, mustachioed man, generic in every way, purrs about the duality of our lives—offline and on. He then picks his unsuspecting victim: An apparently real man, from Bruges, named Tom.
Our mystery man “friends” Tom on Facebook, smiling evilly all the while. He then sends a phishing email allegedly from Tom’s bank to steal his financial data. Using his credit card, he does some expected things (books a hotel in London) and some not so expected (buying a beautiful antique harp).
What’s truly unnerving, however, is that the identity thief doesn’t stop at anything so pedestrian as stealing money. He then “literally” becomes Tom, via sophisticated latex makeup straight out of Mission Impossible, and drives around Bruges, saying hi to Tom’s friends and signing his name on receipts.
I’ve got to say, if these are the sorts of mind-game-playing weirdos we’re up against in the battle for privacy, I can no longer trust anyone. Especially Belgians.
Photo by DuvalGuillaume/YouTube