An impersonator is an individual or a business that intentionally misleads consumers into thinking that he or it is someone else. In many cases, this charade is carried out for entertainment value by actors within a television series or a theater performance. This type of deception is normally harmless, but an impersonator could also have quite sinister motives as well. Others will assume the role of an impersonator for acceptance, and these types of impostors change their identities to gain access to everything from country clubs to confidential files. Criminals who pose as impersonators often hope to gain access to wealth or information, and this tactic is very common through postal mail and on the Internet.
The most common form of an impersonator is referred to as a "con artist." This individual is usually very skilled in the art of deception, and he will use his talent to convince others that he is a representative of a political organization, financial institution, major corporation, or anything else that he can think of to gain favor with his victim. Once a certain level of trust is established, the con artist will casually make his true intentions known, often in the form of a problem or setback that he requires assistance with. In these situations, the victim will frequently volunteer assistance in order to remedy the situation, which is what the impersonator was seeking to begin with.
Impersonators do not always rely on face-to-face contact in order to deceive their victims. In many situations, contact is established by telephone, mail, or over the Internet through a seemingly innocent advertisement or correspondence letter. The criminal's intentions in these types of scenarios are to gain access to some type of personal information that can be used for a form of identity theft. While offenses like stolen credit card numbers and banking information are common, some thieves will try to obtain a Social Security Number to completely assume the victim's identity. Once this happens, the criminal may purchase homes, vehicles, stocks, or anything else he can think of by using the victim's credit lines.
People often think that an impersonator only seeks out victims that are not intelligent, but studies show that consumers with higher aptitudes are often the most sought-after targets. By far the best way to avoid an impersonator is to thoroughly check his credentials through a third-party source—many victims claim they saw warning signs, but ignored them because they thought they were making an intelligent decision. No matter if the impersonator is posing as a police officer, an investor, or any other type of professional, a good habit for consumers is to avoid any type of interaction unless the person's identity can be unquestionably proven.