A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after a woman researching her family tree allegedly found him using the identity of her nephew, who had passed away as a baby.
The aunt of Nathan Laskoski was working on her family’s lineage on Ancestry.com when she spotted information concerning marriages and the states where her nephew had lived in years past.
The only problem? Little Nathan died in Texas at 2 months old in 1972, federal prosecutors said.
In 1996, Jon Vincent allegedly stole the deceased infant’s identity after escaping from a Texas halfway house where he had been ordered to live following a stint in prison, authorities said.
He had been convicted in Texas of indecency with a child, online records show.
After making his escape, Vincent allegedly visited a cemetery to find a person with a birthday close to his own and chose to assume the identity of Nathan Laskoski, online court records said.
Investigators said Vincent first obtained a Social Security card as Laskoski in 1996 and went on to live under the new name in Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
He also received a driver’s license, got married, divorced and remarried as Laskoski. He also assumed the name for jobs, the most recent of which was as a nurse’s aide, records show.
But the charade came to an end when the real Nathan Laskoski's aunt began researching her genealogy on Ancestry.com.
While looking into her family tree, the woman saw that her deceased nephew’s name was a green leaf, which led to public records indicating he was alive, authorities said.
She first informed her sister, Laskoski’s mother, who did her own research and learned someone had obtained a Social Security card under her son’s name in Texas. She then filed an identity theft complaint with the Social Security Administration.
Laskoski’s mother told investigators that in 1996, she received a "strange" phone call from someone asking questions about her son, including questions about his social security number.
She said she answered some of the caller’s questions, but when she questioned the caller about his inquiries, he hung up.
She called the police to report the phone call, which they said was probably a scam, according to court records.
Vincent, now 44, was arrested Monday and charged with Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney's office said. If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison, supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000.
He remained jailed Thursday and is due in court to be arraigned on May 2.
“Mr. Vincent was a very young man when this matter first arose, and he deeply regrets the poor judgment he exercised back then, and the distress this must have caused the family, which was never his intention," Vincent's attorney, Felicia Sanner, told InsideEdition.com. "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."