Comedian Bennett Arron was in serious debt. He owed thousands of pounds to mobile phone companies, catalogues and department stores. Only, it wasn’t him.
Mr Bennett was a victim of identity theft. The result of this theft was that he and his pregnant wife became penniless and homeless.
Funny? Not really, although he has managed to turn the experience in a comedy show called Identity Theft — a disturbing yet humorous account of what it is like to have your identity stolen. It is showing at The New End Theatre, Hampstead, from February 27 for nine nights.
He tells People: “A few years ago, my wife and I were trying to buy a property when we got a letter from the bank saying that my mortgage had been declined because of my huge debt. Someone had been using my card, and identity, for over a year. We lost everything and had to move back in with my parents in Wales.
“I was a comedian at the time but didn’t find it funny. It took me two years to clear my name. I had to prove to people that I was me, and not the person pretending to be me.”
Mr Bennett, who is now reluctant to disclose his age for security reasons, performed the show at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006 and was subsequently asked to direct and present a documentary for Channel 4.
In the documentary, he proved how easy the crime of ID theft is to carry out — he managed to steal the identity of the then Home Secretary, Charles Clarke. The programme was “Pick of The Week” in the Guardian and the Telegraph and went on to be shortlisted for a Bafta.
Is he now very paranoid? “I was always cautious, but unfortunately it’s one of those things that can’t really be stopped.”
Bit of a heavy topic for a comedy show? “I assure you it’s very funny.”