is Used to Catch a Florida Man Living Under an Assumed Name for More Than 20 Years

Terry Jude Symansky was a Florida man who drowned in 1991 at age 33. However, his nephew recently was working on a family genealogy project and found his uncle’s information on Knowing the uncle died in 1991, the nephew was shocked to find a later marriage license associated with his name. After some investigation, police found that the new Terry Jude Symansky is actually Richard Hoagland, a man who disappeared from Indiana about 25 years ago and was declared dead in 2003.

The man living under the assumed name apparently committed no crime, other than fraudulent use of personal identification. Unlike many identity thieves, he did not use the new identity to steal money or for any other financial gain. Instead, he lived a quiet life, married a local woman, and had a son by her. That son is now a teenager.

Hoagland, 63, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of fraudulent use of personal identification.

The details and a number of pictures may be found in an article by Hannah Alani in the Tampa Bay Times at


The widespread dissemination of this story will only serve to assist in limiting access to certain records upon which genealogists rely.


    “Hoagland also stole the other man’s identity before the era of digital records, which made it easier for him.”

    It shouldn’t because is far less likely to occur now. But based on past precedence, it is likely that unnatural fear from the public will spur poor decisions from the government.


This event is a reminder that being tracked by people or agencies one doesn’t want invading one’s privacy or finding one, perhaps for good cause, is a reason to refrain from using online genealogy services in the first place.


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