It’s like a story from a Hollywood movie – a real-life Catch Me If You Can, perhaps. A young man escaped a halfway house in Texas back in in 1996. Unsatisfied with what life had thrown at him, including a conviction for indecency with a child, he decided to come up with a plan to start anew. So the man went to a nearby cemetery, carefully selected the name of a person who was born close to his birth date, tracked down this deceased person’s birth certificate and began a whole new life as Nathan Laskoski.
For more than 20 years, the man’s scheme worked without question. “Nathan”, also known as Jon Vincent, age 44, had used the false identity to get married and subsequently divorced, gain employment including most recently a position as a nurse’s aide, according to records obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. He also received several bank loans and moved across three states. In fact, Social Security records show Vincent has been employed under the false identity and earning income every year since 1996. He had lived in Mississippi and Tennessee in addition to Pennsylvania.
And, Vincent would likely have continued to get away with his plan if the real Laskoski’s aunt hadn’t decided to take a closer look into their family heritage. As she dissected each piece of the puzzle using Ancestry.com, she was shocked to discover the nephew she had thought passed at only two months of age appeared to be alive and living in Pennsylvania. His name appeared on the Ancestry.com tree as a “green” leaf. She decided to investigate.
Once the truth was revealed, Vincent was arrested near Philadelphia and is now facing criminal charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he could be paying fines of up to half a million dollars and receive several years in jail. A Social Security fraud conviction could mean up to five years, while the identify theft conviction could result in another two consecutive years. He is sitting in jail in the meantime and has been ordered to appear for arraignment on May 2nd.
Vincent’s public defender, Felicia Sarner, commented that her client “deeply regrets the poor judgment he exercised” in his younger years and has stressed that Vincent’s plan hadn’t created a financial burden to the Laskoski family. “His conduct has not resulted in any financial loss and throughout all of the intervening years he has not been in trouble with the law and has lived a quiet, hard-working life,” she said.
Laskoski’s mother recalled that she received an odd phone call around the time that her deceased son’s identity was stolen in 1996 asking personal questions about Nathan, including a request for his social security number. She began to answer, but decided to question the caller to be on the safe side after he continued to pry. He immediately hung up. The woman reported the strange call to authorities, who told her it was likely a scam and nothing more became of the incident.