Will Smith’s Identity Getting Stolen Ended With Over $500K In Debt and Fines
Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Kim Kardashian, and Tiger Woods all have something in common. Yes, there are undoubtedly some of the biggest and richest pop icons of our time, but they are also victims of identity theft.
Rapper turned actor, Will Smith, unfortunately, joined this list of wealthy A-list celebrities. The Fresh Prince became a victim of credit card fraud when a career criminal stole his identity and racked up more than $30,000 in fraudulent charges.
The career of Will Smith
Smith started in the entertainment industry as a Grammy award-winning rapper from Philadelphia. He became a household name when he parlayed his music career into the iconic television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
He went on to star in blockbuster movies such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and Ali. The Hollywood sensation has been nominated for 200 music, film, and television awards and is known the world over for his contagious grin and upbeat demeanor.
How did Will Smith become a victim of credit card fraud?
In 2002, Carlos Lomax assumed the identity of the Bad Boys actor and fraudulently rang up credit card charges in Smith’s name.
According to Federal prosecutors, Lomax somehow got a hold of Smith’s Social Security number and a copy of his credit report. With this personal information, Lomax was able to open credit accounts under the name of Willard C. Smith, which is the actor’s given name.
The thief used Smith’s identity to obtain a Sprint cell phone account, American Express credit card, and bank account. He also opened several department and specialty store accounts in Pittsburgh that included Sears, Kaufmann’s, and Kohl’s. He even obtained a Blockbuster Video card in Smith’s name, according to Pittsburgh City Paper.
In total, according to Billboard, Lomax opened 14 accounts, placing fraudulent charges on 12 of them before being caught. The total amount of unauthorized transactions totaled $32,897.34.
How the thief was caught
The business manager of the Enemy of the State action hero contacted Federal authorities after discovering $5,447 in fraudulent charges on a Sears credit card issued in Smith’s name.
Investigators were able to apprehend the suspect by tracking a mailing address on the Sears account to the home of Lomax. They searched the house and found numerous sales receipts and other written evidence that proved he had indeed assumed the rapper’s identity. A digital search of the computer belonging to Lomax turned up several web searches for personal information for musicians, actors, and professional athletes.
Was the identity theft convicted?
It was not the first run-in with the law for Lomax. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that in 1999 Lomax had assumed the identity of Atlanta Hawks basketball player Steve Smith. He accumulated $81,000 in American Express credit card debt in Smith’s name before being apprehended. Lomax was sentenced to two years in prison and received three years probation. He was also ordered to pay more than $270,000 in restitution to the credit card companies, reports MTV.
When police arrested Lomax for impersonating Will Smith, he was already on probation for the case involving Steve Smith. He pleaded guilty to the use of an unauthorized access device, and a federal judge ordered Lomax to repay American Express. The repeat offender was also ordered to return another $190,000 that he had stolen from several other companies where he fraudulently obtained credit. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that money has not yet been repaid.
The identity thief received a sentence of 37 months in federal prison, which later got reduced to 30 months. In 2005, Lomax transferred to a halfway house in Pittsburgh. Later that year, the career criminal received court permission to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia. Federal probation officials refused to supervise Lomax and issued an arrest warrant for his failure to return to western Pennsylvania.
His defense attorney argued that he was working in Atlanta and planning to repay a $64,000 fine to credit card companies and other victims of his fraudulent acts, according to Today. At the end of it all, Lomax owed around $524,000, between his restitution and fines.
In late 2005, Lomax was sent back to prison. He received a two-year sentence, and the judge declared that Lomax was “not amenable” to probation. According to CBS, He had failed to rehabilitate himself and did not make restitution to his victims while on a supervised release.