Difference between Paper Tripping And Fake ID’s


Paper Tripping (Ghosting) is a form of identity theft, which basically involves a person stealing the identity of a specific deceased person.


These people are commonly referred to as Ghosters. Sometimes, Ghosters even steal the role of that dead person in the society. It was a very common thing happening all over the world in the 20th century. Usually, the identity stolen is of a person that was not widely known in order to avoid being caught, because it is a practice that is not acceptable in many countries. In most cases, the ghoster steals the identity of a person with whom they do not have a big difference in age. Sometimes, the ghoster may change their original identity as well in order to start a new life as another person and still ghost with the deceased identity.

Is ghosting similar to using fake identification?

Most people find themselves confused on whether ghosting is the same of using fake identification. The truth is that these are two different concepts. There are services that cannot be obtained while using fake identification, because the sate organs are more likely to detect that they are false in the first instance. However, ghosting involves a person actually getting the actual identification of a deceased person, they are not faking it, and they are simply obtaining genuine identification that does not belong to them. Ghosters can therefore access many benefits such as social security benefits and loans unlike people who possess fake identity.

What triggers identity theft?

For many years, government agencies in many governments were not effective in exchanging vital information regarding its citizens such as the death certificates, and so people came to know about it and took advantage of the situation. The driving reason was the benefits available to them, including obtaining a passport, social security and bank services.


Types of Ghosters

  1. Run-away criminals

These as are basically people who have a criminal record and are not comfortable about it and want to hide their past or who honestly want to reform and start a good life. They will prefer to choose to live a life in the name of a deceased person than to be identified as criminals. Usually, these people run away from their home towns.

  1. Irresponsible people

These are people who do not take their duties up seriously and will like to run away from their marriages and their families. Some lazy people will also want to live big under a dead person’s identity, usually one who was hard working and acquired wealth.

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  1. Identification

Some people may want to be associated with a certain given people in society in order to get some benefits from that association. It is reported that light-skinned mulattos, legally called Negroes in South Africa used to steal identities of dead Caucasians and pass off as one of them during the Apartheid regime.

Famous Ghosters

A renowned ghoster who confessed to have stolen identity of a dead person was a man named Samuel Jones. He passed off as an American actor by the name Wallace Ford. He was born in England but studied in Canada, where he became a hobo and started working on trains together with his friend, Wallace Ford. They were involved in a train accident and Ford die. Jones then took the identity of Wallace Ford, and even adopted parts of his biography, tax returns and obtained a passport. He became a very successful actor, starring in big films like Broadway and other Hollywood films. He successfully passed off as Wallace as the death was never even recorded. In fact, no one would have ever known about it if he had not confessed about it.


How do Ghosters get the deceased person’s information?

Usually, Ghosters go to public archives to get information about dead people. They have many candidates and so they eliminate the best candidate from the public database. Others get the information from published obituaries of less famous people. In some countries like England, all births, deaths, marriages and adoptions certificates were public documents and so it was easy to obtain even the birth certificate of that dead person and use them.

It was believed in the older days that females had more chances in ghosting without being noticed because most women that had been married and took their husbands name were mostly stay at homes mums, usually with no wages.

In 1970’s, a famous publisher called Eden Press published paper called The Paper Trip which was advising people to steal identities of a people who died in an accident involving multiple people as they will have variety of candidates, or of an entire family that died in an accident. The reasons for the family option were stated to include the fact that there will be no immediate relatives aware of the death, because if they died outside their home state, records will be in two states that will likely never cross-check. Also, if their remains were not returned, no local person is likely to be aware of their death. The paper also said that requesting for an old birth certificate will not be suspicious as the persons memory has faded.

How to protect your beloved from Ghosters

It may not because you any financial loss or harm, but it certainly does not sound good that someone out there is living under your beloved’s identity while you are in grief and wishing that they were alive. It is hurtful indeed and so you may wish to stop it from happening. Here are some tips;-

  • Publish very little information published in an obituary
  • Acquire their death certificate copies as soon as they are availed to you.
  • You can send copies of the death certificate of the deceased to financial institutions like credit reporting agencies, banks, insurance companies, investment firms, utility services, and other financial accounts.
  • Request their bank to close their account as “Closed Account-holder is deceased.” So that a ghoster cannot transact anything on it.
  • You can personally report the death to your countries Social Security
  • If the deceased had a driver’s license, cancel it through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This will make sure that no duplicates are issued

Is ghosting common today?

It is a pretty hard question to answer but sure enough, ghosting is not as common today as it once was. This is because of the technology advancements that make it easy to know of a person’s death and enable government departments to transfer the information.

Besides that, it is a crime in many states to become a ghoster and the penalties attached to it are pretty heavy so people avoid it.


Identity theft was once common all over the world. But today it does not happen as much as it was happening in the 20th century. It has drawbacks to the ghoster as they have to be on the lookout all the time, which can be pretty depressing. There are also the penalties facing the ghoster if they are caught. Besides that, the families of the deceased will not be pleased if someone masquerades under their relatives names. It is a bad practice that should be stopped.







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