Who Are You Really? The History of Identity Theft

It seems bad things always come with the good. And for many, the bad that came with the goodness of technology was identity theft. However, identity theft far predates the first online shopping experience.

Let’s take a look at how this criminal act has evolved over time.

Identity Theft in the Bible

This criminal act dates back to Biblical times. In fact, in the book of Genesis we discover the first recorded instance of identity theft.

Esau and JacobThough Esau and Jacob were twins, Esau was Dad’s favorite and Jacob was preferred by Mom. When the brothers suspected Dad was on his last leg, Esau asked for his blessing (which would impact the inheritance as well). His father consented, but asked Esau to prepare him a meal first.

Sneaky Mom wanted Jacob to get all the glory, so she whipped up a scam with her favorite boy. They both knew Dad could hardly see and would rely on touch to identify his favorite. Since Esau was a hairy fella, Jacob covered his arms with animal hair.

Jacob snuck in and presented his hairy arms to Dad while Esau was still getting dinner ready. When Dad felt the hairy arm, he believed Esau was in his presence and therefore gave Jacob the blessing.

Essentially, Jacob got all the financial and agricultural gains that were due to Esau because he lied about who he was. Thusly, identity theft began…

Wild West and Gangster Style Identity Theft

During the Wild West era, bank robbers and other outlaws were known to murder people for the sake of assuming a new persona. This new name and life story enabled them to hide out from the law.

Other instances of identity theft in the early part of American history revolved around voting. Identities were stolen and created for the sake of ballot stuffing. Ballot stuffing enabled one party to outweigh the other on Election Day.

While ballot stuffing wasn’t typically a murderous form of identity theft, the Wild West style continued into the days of Al Capone. Mobsters were constantly hunted; therefore, it became necessary to create their own version of the witness protection plan.

Usually, this involved killing the witness and stealing all legal and identity-based documents. People wearing concrete shoes had a hard time complaining about the loss of their driver’s licenses.

Thieving for a Drink or a Job

When prohibition came to a close in the early thirties, states were granted the right to set their own legal drinking ages.

At first, these state-by-state drinking laws caused college students to travel a lot. If students attended school in a state with a drinking age of 21, they would simply drive to a state where the 18 or 19-year-olds partied.

But soon, these industrious drinkers figured out a way to drink—and not drive. All they needed was a fake ID. In 1984, congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Once everyone had to wait until their 21st birthday to imbibe, the popularity of fake IDs really took off.

However, the purpose of obtaining a fake ID shifted gears in the late 1980s. A few decades before, the nation saw a huge influx of immigrants. In an attempt to organize these new residents, the government passed the Immigration Control and Reform Act.

As part of the hiring process, employers were supposed to check the identification of their employees. In order to maintain their jobs, the immigrants quickly sought out fake identification papers. Most used the social security numbers of deceased citizens.

From Phone, to Trash, to Cyberspace: Identity Theft Evolves

While some people were busy creating IDs to get into bars or maintain their careers, others were more interested in attaining access to innocent people’s money.

Initially, these thefts began on the telephone. The thief would inform his victims that they’d won some sort of prize. In order to claim that prize, all the innocent citizen needed to do was provide a slew of personal information.

People were still naïve to scams of this nature and frequently found themselves in dire straits due to the cleaning out of their savings accounts and resale of their property (often with them in it).

Eventually, people wised up to this so thieves needed a new scam. They began sorting through trash in hopes of discovering discarded credit card and bank statements. With this information, they could steal the financial identity of their unknowing victims.

In response to the increase of financial identity theft, another law was passed: the Truth in Lending Act of 1968. From there, we can track the history of chargebacks.

Chargebacks are a form of consumer protection, made necessary by the increase in identity theft. Since identity theft commonly leads to unauthorized credit card transactions, consumers needed a way to get their money back. Therefore, chargebacks and the TILA were entered into the history books.

Most recently the advent of the internet with its hackers and viruses has become a key method of identity theft. Personal information shared over unsecured networks or Wi-Fi that is not password protected is some of the thieves’ favorite things. Sadly, larceny evolves as previous methods are hindered.

Identity Theft of the Future

If there is anything we’ve learned by looking at the history books it’s that criminals will grow and evolve. They are always on the hunt for the new ways to commit old crimes.

While no one knows exactly what identity theft will look like in the future, one thing is for certain: our most sensitive personal information will always be up for grabs.

Julia Richardson is a business writer who also happens to be infatuated with history.

Nietzsche – Philosophy In An Hour

Friedrich Nietzsche was born 15 October 1844, in Saxony, which was by this time a province of the increasingly powerful kingdom of Prussia. Nietzsche was descended from a long line of tradesmen, including hatters and butchers, but his grandfather and father were both Lutheran pastors. Nietzsche’s father was a patriotic Prussian who held his king, Friedrich

Wilhelm IV, in high esteem. When Ludwig Nietzsche’s first son was born on the king’s birthday, it was obvious that he had little chance of being named Otto. By an utterly meaningless coincidence, all three men were to die insane.

NietzscheThe Little Pastor

Nietzsche was now brought up in Naumburg in a house full of “holy women,” which included a mother, a younger sister, a maternal grandmother, and two slightly loopy maiden aunts. This appears to have affected Nietzsche’s attitude toward women in later life. At the age of thirteen he went to boarding school at nearby Pforta, one of the top private boarding schools in Germany.

Nietzsche, very much the product of his pious, mollycoddled upbringing, became known as “the little pastor” and carried off all the prizes. But he was so brilliant that eventually he couldn’t help thinking for himself. By the age of eighteen he was beginning to doubt his faith. The clear–sighted thinker couldn’t help noticing the square pegs in the round holes of the world about him. Typically this thinking appears to have been done in complete isolation. Throughout his life Nietzsche was to be influenced in his thought by very few living people (and not many dead ones either).

God is dead

At the age of nineteen Nietzsche went to the University of Bonn to study theology and classical philology, with the aim of becoming a pastor. His destiny had been mapped out long beforehand by the “holy women”; but already he was beginning to experience an unconscious urge to rebellion, which resulted in a transformation of his character. On arriving at Bonn the solitary schoolboy unexpectedly became a typical gregarious student. He joined a smart fraternity, took to drinking with his fellows, and even fought a duel (the usual artificial affair, which was stopped as soon as he had received his honourable scar – a slight nick on the nose, unfortunately later obscured by the bridge of his spectacles). But this was only a necessary phase. By now Nietzsche had decided “God is dead.” (This remark, now so closely associated with Nietzsche and his philosophy, was also made by Georg Hegel some twenty years before Nietzsche was born.)

At home during the holidays he refused to take communion and announced that he would not be entering the church. The next year he decided to switch to Leipzig University, where he would drop theology and concentrate on classical philology. Nietzsche arrived in Leipzig in October 1865, in the same month that he celebrated his twenty-first birthday.

The bordello

NietzscheAround this time two events took place which were to transform his life. While on a sight-seeing trip to Cologne, he visited a brothel. According to Nietzsche this visit was inadvertent. On arrival he had asked a street porter to lead him to a restaurant; instead the porter took him to a brothel. The way Nietzsche later related it to a friend: “All at once I found myself surrounded by half a dozen apparitions in tinsel and gauze, gazing at me expectantly. For a brief moment I was speechless. Then I made instinctively for the only soulful thing present in the place: the piano. I played a few chords, which freed me from my paralysis, and I escaped.”

Inevitably, we only have Nietzsche’s evidence regarding this unlikely episode. Whether or not the visit was quite so accidental, and whether or not Nietzsche ended up only fondling the keys of the piano, it is impossible to tell. Nietzsche was almost certainly still a virgin at the time. He was an extremely intense young man as well as being inexperienced and gauche in the ways of the world. (Yet this didn’t stop him from making pronouncements about such matters. Despite his sexual status, he earnestly informed a friend that he would need to keep three women to satisfy him.)

On later consideration Nietzsche must have decided that he had been attracted by something more than the piano. He went back to the brothel and almost certainly paid a few visits to similar establishments when he returned to Leipzig. Not long after this he discovered that he was infected. The doctor who treated him wouldn’t have told him that he had syphilis (they didn’t in those days, because it was incurable). Even so, as a result of this incident Nietzsche appears to have abstained from sexual activity with women.

Despite this he continued throughout his life to make embarrassingly self-revealing remarks about them in his philosophy. “You are going to see a woman? Do not forget your whip.”(Although it’s possible that, owing to the type of bordello, he had visited in Leipzig, he thought it only fair that men should be equally armed for the fray.)

The second-hand book

The second life-changing incident took place when he entered a secondhand bookshop and came across a copy of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation. “I took the unfamiliar book in my hands and began leafing through the pages. I don’t know what demon it was that whispered in my ear: ‘Take this book home.’ So, breaking my principle of never buying a book too quickly, I did just that. Back home, I threw myself into the corner of the sofa with my new treasure, and began to let that dynamic gloomy genius work on my mind…. I found myself looking into a mirror which reflected the world, life and my own nature with terrifying grandeur…. Here I saw sickness and health, exile and refuge, Hell and Heaven.”

Read more in Nietzsche: Philosophy In An Hour by Paul Strathern, published by Harper Press, and available in various digital formats, only 99p / $1.60.

Clara Zetkin – a summary

Clara Zetkin was, during the late 19th and early 20th century, a prominent German communist. With a strong sympathy for the proletariat causes, Zetkin argued that only through a class revolution, one that would overthrow capitalism, could women finally be considered and treated equally. Most of her work was as a prominent supporter, but not member, as women were not permitted to join, of the German Social Democratic Party and, later, as a founder of the German Communist Party. With an ally in Vladimir Lenin, Zetkin was a feminist who advocated the liberation of women using Marxist reform.

Early Life

Clara ZetkinClara Zetkin was born Clara Eissner on 5 July 1857, the eldest of three to a schoolteacher and church organist father. She was raised in Wiederau, near Leipzig, in Germany. Her stepmother, previously the widow of the local doctor, influenced her from an early age. She learned of women’s education societies and became an activist for economic power and equal rights for women.

At the age of 15, Clara’s family moved to Leipzig and there, in 1875, she began formal studies at Schmidt and Otto’s Van Steyber Institute. She was influenced by the German Women’s Association and continued her studies while reading local periodicals and publications, and attending Association meetings.

Professional Life

As editor of Die Gleichheit, a women’s journal stemming from the SDP, young Clara worked tirelessly to promote women’s issues. She met Russian Ossip Zetkin through some fellow students and, with his mentoring, developed a better understanding of the writings of Marx and Engels. In 1879, with Zetkin, Clara rejected what she considered her bourgeois lifestyle, split from her family and traveled to Russia to observe Marxism in action.

In 1882, Clara and Ossip travelled to Austria where she worked as a tutor for factory workers, while Ossip campaigned for greater socialist reform.

Women’s Rights and Political Activity

From Austria, the couple moved to Paris, where they lived an impoverished life. Having contacted tuberculosis, Clara returned to Germany to recover, where she re-established contact with her family. While recovering, she came to believe that it was social equality of the classes that would liberate women from their oppression without need for special concessions in laws and provisions. She returned to Paris on hearing that her husband had contacted spinal tuberculosis.

As one of the only eight female delegates to the Second International Congress in Paris in 1889, Clara Zetkin made a number of speeches concerning the rights and conditions of the working class, and suggesting that the lives of women would only improve once the capitalism had been eradicated. Her views put her at odds with many of her colleagues who found her views too extreme. Their efforts were more focused on specific goals, such as equal pay for equal work. Not to ne denied, she continued to work in Berlin, where, with others, she founded the Berlin Agitation Committee.

Zetkin served as both a representative of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag legislative body and as an associate of Lenin. She also edited the Marxist SPD journal for women. She also became a firm supporter of trade unionism and its use of organized strikes. She became more moderate in her views as she worked more extensively with the working classes. But in other ways she remained a staunch Marxist in thought and practice even amidst efforts by Marxist Revisionists who urged her to modify her views for more general audiences.

Private life and Last Days

The Zetkins lived as husband and wife and had two sons. In order to retain her German citizenship, Clara never legally married Zetkin but took his name and lived with him to his death in Paris in January 1889. She married again in 1899, the German painter, Georg Friedrich Zundel, 18 years her junior. Their marriage ended in divorce during the Great War.

Clara Zetkin and Rosa LuxemburgFrom 1907 to 1910 Zelkin worked as the secretary of the International Women’s Bureau. She established the first International Women’s Day on 19 March 1911. During the First World War, she and fellow activist, Rosa Luxemburg (pictured in 1910 with Clara Zetkin), condemned the radicals within their party resulting in her leaving the party and resigning her post as editor. Later, with Luxemburg, she formed the Sparticus League, which later evolved into the German Communist Party.

Clara Zelkin’s political views didn’t falter and throughout the 1920s she continued to advocate for women’s education and workers’ reform. In 1932, she was the party’s oldest member and spoke out against Hitler and the rise of Nazism in Germany. Following the ban of the German Communist Party, following the Reichstag Fire in February 1933, Zetkin moved to the Soviet Union.

Clara Zetkin died outside of Moscow from poor health on 20 June 1933. She was honoured with an elaborate funeral attended by some of the leading dignitaries of the Communist world.

Jessica Millis

Jessica is an aspiring writer and proofreader. She works as an editor on EssayMama’s blog.

The Dieppe Raid – a summary

In August 1942, Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s wartime prime minister, flew to Moscow and there met for the first time the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin. Fourteen months before, on 22 June 1941, Hitler had launched Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the largest military invasion ever conducted. Almost immediately, Stalin was urging Churchill to open a second front by attacking Nazi-occupied Europe from the West, thereby forcing Hitler to divert troops to the west and alleviating in part the enormous pressure the Soviet Union found itself under. Now, as Churchill prepared to meet Stalin, German forces were bearing down on the strategically and symbolically important Russian city of Stalingrad.

Churchill knew that if Germany were to defeat the Soviet Union then Hitler would be able to concentrate his whole military strength on the west. But although tentative plans for a large-scale invasion were afoot, to act too quickly, too hastily, would be foolhardy. Churchill withstood Stalin’s pressure. There would be no second front for at least another year. But, in the meanwhile, Churchill was able to offer a ‘reconnaissance in force’ on the French port of Dieppe, with the objective of drawing away German troops from the Eastern Front. Whether Stalin was at all appeased by this morsel of compensation, Churchill does not say.

Operation Jubilee

Dieppe Raid German defenceThus, in the early hours of 19 August 1942, the Allies launched Operation Jubilee – the raid on Dieppe, 65 miles across from England. 252 ships crossed the Channel in a five-pronged attack carrying tanks together with 5,000 Canadians and 1,000 British and American troops plus a handful of fighters from the French resistance. Nearing their destination, one prong ran into a German merchant convoy. A skirmish ensued. More fatally, it meant that the element of surprise had been lost – aware of what was taking place, the Germans at Dieppe were now waiting in great numbers.

Pictured: German soldiers defending the French port of Dieppe against the Anglo-Canadian raid, 19 August 1942.

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A Quick Visitors’ Guide to Ancient Greece

With the remains of many temples, battlefields and ancient Greek cities dotted across the Greek countryside, it’s no surprise that so many flock to soak up the sights of Greece every year. As the original location of the Olympic Games, over 3,000 years ago, and home to the famous Parthenon, we explore some of the country’s top ancient sites.


Located in southern Naples, Paestum consists of three ancient temples; the Temple of Neptune, Hera and Ceres, also known as the Temple of Athena. This historic site contains impressive defensive walls, a Roman forum, ancient tombs, plus the remains of an amphitheatre. Along with a fascinating local museum, the ancient Greek town of Paestum, originally founded in the 6th century BCE, is a tourist hotspot certainly worth visiting.


Temple of ZeusHome to the most famous sporting event in history, Olympia was the birthplace of the Olympic Games back in 776 BCE. Athletes came from neighbouring lands and headed to Olympia to compete against each other in these epic games over 3,000 years ago, and now visitors can walk through the extraordinary ruins of the area. Not only that, Olympia is where the Temple of Zeus resides, one of the largest temples in the southern Greek peninsula of Peloponnese. Originally built with 104 columns, a mere 15 still stand today and are decorated intricately with mythical scenes.

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The Kaiser’s War EPOS

Press release from a new digital magazine entitled EPOS:

EPOSOur first issue of EPOS, 1914-1918: The Kaiser’s War, chronicles the events of the First World War in a refreshingly new light. Illustrated by over two hundred historical photographs, interactive maps, authentic recordings of the time, and rare, and often colourized, film sequences.

The EPOS IOS App was launched in Germany this year and has had an energetic reception from readers all over the country. The iTunes App Store considered it to be the Best iPad App of the Month in May. This month we are launching an English version for our international audience.

EPOS is one of the first ever digital magazines which truly capitalizes on the phenomenon of user interaction through animated graphics, frequent scrolling and parallax effects, to fully immerse the reader in the content that is on offer to them.

Worth having a look, we think, and good value too:
Price: $7.99, €6.99, £5.49.

See more at: http://www.epos-mag.com/?lang=en_US

Two World Wars: The Hero Connection

Seventy years ago this past June, the armies of the Allies — young men who had grown up in the shadow of the previous war — landed on the beaches of Normandy to put an end to what had begun, in a sense, 30 Junes earlier on the streets of Sarajevo when Franz Ferdinand lost his life to an assassin’s bullet.

WW2 US heroesThe connections between the two world wars are myriad but one that most Americans never consider is this: both conflicts were fought with courage if not heroism. Americans make an immediate association between the concept of hero and the Second World War thanks, in part, to a continuous stream of related television and film productions featuring our Greatest Generation. But the First World War? Most of us know too little about it to make that connection.

And heroism requires a cause. World War II clearly had it. World War I did not, at least initially. The nationalism and related territorial claims that stirred Europe to war in 1914 hardly constituted a good vs. evil situation.

Brave Little Belgium

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Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife – a summary

As is the case with her husband, we know remarkably little about the life of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. There is no record of either her birth or her baptism, but the inscription on her gravestone indicates that she was 67 years old when she died in 1623. This suggests she was born in 1556, which would make her eight years older than her husband.

Anne HathawayAnne was the eldest of eight children born to local farmer and landowner, Richard Hathaway. It is assumed that the first three children were borne by Richard’s first wife, and the woman listed as her mother, Joan Hathaway, was, in fact, Anne’s stepmother. We have no information as to the identity of Anne’s biological mother, nor do we know for sure if Richard had ever married her.

(Pictured: Drawing purportedly of Anne Hathaway).


The family was raised in the village of Shottery, about a mile-and-a-half from Stratford-upon-Avon. Their home was a twelve-room farmhouse which has since become known as Anne Hathaway’s Cottage – a rather misleading nickname considering it is much larger than a cottage, and it never actually belonged to Anne. As the eldest girl, Anne would have been expected to help with the care of her younger siblings and with the upkeep of the farmhouse. We have no information about the education she received, although it is doubtful that she attended school. This does not necessarily mean, however, that Anne was illiterate, as has often been suggested. In fact, given that her family were ardent Protestants, it is likely she would have been taught to read, if only to enable her to study the Bible.

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Who Betrayed Anne Frank?

On the morning of 4 August 1944, a car drew up outside 263 Prinsengracht, a warehouse and office building in central Amsterdam. Several men exited the vehicle and made their way inside, among them an Austrian officer named Karl Josef Silberbauer and some members of the Dutch Nazi Party. They had been tipped off that Jews were hiding on the premises. Whoever had made the anonymous phone call that day was correct: in an annexe at the back of the building, Silberbauer and his men discovered eight Jews. The youngest among them was a 15-year-old girl named Anne Frank.

The Arrest

Anne FrankThe warehouse staff had pointed Silberbauer in the direction of the first floor offices on his arrival to 263 Prinsengracht. Upon entering, a pistol was drawn and Viktor Kugler, the director of the company, was ordered to show the men where the Jews were hiding. Unwillingly, Kugler took them to a bookcase, which concealed the door to what people around the world now know as the Secret Annexe. This was where the Frank family, the van Pels family and a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer had been living clandestinely since 1942, supported by Kugler and other helpers. All of them were German Jews who had fled Nazi rule in the 1930s, only to find their lives endangered once more following the occupation of the Netherlands and the implementation of anti-Semitic laws.

Otto FrankOtto Frank (pictured) was giving 17-year-old Peter van Pels an English lesson when the Nazis entered the Annexe. They joined their families and Pfeffer on the lower floor, where they were ordered to give up their valuables. Looking for something in which to transport the loot, Silberbauer picked up Otto’s leather briefcase, the private place where his youngest daughter Anne had chosen to keep her diaries. Her writings were unceremoniously emptied on to the floor as what little cash the Franks had was stashed away by the Gestapo.

Initially, the Jews were told they had just a few minutes to pack a small bag, but Silberbauer then saw Otto’s trunk, evidently the property of a German war veteran. He was astonished that a Jew had served in the German army and subsequently told everyone to take their time. Similarly astounding was Otto’s revelation that they had been in hiding for over two years. As proof, Silberbauer was shown the pencil lines where Otto had charted Anne and Margot’s growth since 1942 and a map studded with colourful pins, charting the progress of the Allied invasion. D-Day, on 6 June 1944, had been jubilantly celebrated in the Annexe, as everyone had believed that the liberation could not be far away. Now, however, it was evident that for them, the Allied invasion had begun too late.

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