According to a New York Times interview, Jeremy Wilson is the biggest con artist since "Catch Me if You Can" – with an Irish twist.
Jeremy Wilson – if that is his real name – has impersonated war veterans, Microsoft executives and undocumented Irish immigrants with IRA connections. From his high school days until now, at age 42, he has assumed 27 identities in five different states and swindled his way into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
His decades of conning came to an end – possibly – on New Year’s Eve, when he was lured into a police station in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, on the basis that his BMW car had been impounded as part of an unrelated crime.
However, the man NYPD were hoping to lure was not named Jeremy Wilson. His name was Jeremiah Asimov-Beckingham, a US Army veteran of Afghanistan, and he was suspected of forging checks in Massachusetts amounting to $70,000 and the cost of the BMW. He is currently being held on $1 million bail following a hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court.
But, as the New York Times reported yesterday, the man’s name was not Jeremiah Asimov-Beckingham, and he was not a war vet. “New York detectives and Homeland Security agents found an Indiana birth certificate in his immigration file showing his name as Jeremy Wilson, born in Indianapolis in July 1973. It was the oldest document in the file, so they charged him under that name.” His mother has been named as Patricia Clark, and his father as Lonnie Wilson, from whom his mother separated before marrying a man named John Erskine.
According to the New York Daily News, “more than 200 forged checks, military uniforms, fake passports from Canada and the U.K., and other false official documents were recovered from the 10 Hanover Square apartment he rented.”
At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a Wounded Warrior hat, military-style dog tags and a Harvard Law School sweatshirt.
Now, Jeremy Wilson is claiming that his real name is Jeremy Keenan and that his real father is the famous IRA leader Brian Keenan, who implemented explosive campaigns in the UK in the ‘70s and “later played a role in the peace process for Northern Ireland” before passing away in 2008.
Here’s a rundown of the various cons he’s pulled:
• Stealing his grandfather’s car and credit cards
• Assuming the identity, social security card and driver’s license of his cousin Brian Clark
• Attempting to re-enter the US from Canada using forged Irish and Canadian passports.
• Accruing $7,400 in charges at strip clubs and hotels on credit cards obtained under the false identity of a Microsoft executive.
• Escaping from a work release program in 2006, absconding to Canada before being jailed again trying to re-enter the US to see his dying mother.
• Impersonating an Eli Lilly executive
• Assuming an Irish accent while in prison in Indiana
• Stealing credit cards and the social security number of the man who put him up when he was released, and adopting the identity of an MIT graduate whose child had terminal cancer.
• Impersonating a discharged British soldier facing deportation from the US (and a Shakespeare buff)
• Stealing a new driver’s license and forging a court order to switch social security numbers
• Attempting to obtain a military ID and body armor
• Posing as Scottish DJ and video producer
• Posing as a war veteran working for Apple
• Conning a dentist out of $28,000 in dental work in Los Angeles
• Setting up a bank account in Massachusetts with a forged driver’s license, Social Security card and military discharge papers and depositing $70,000 in forged checks from a local company.
As the New York Times put it, “given the number of times Mr. Wilson has been caught, it is hard to call his career a success.”
But even now, behind bars, Wilson, who has the Irish words “Mair Fior” (“stay true”) tattooed on his fingers) continues his seemingly outlandish stories.
As the New York Times wrote, “He said his father was not Lonnie Wilson, the men’s store manager his mother married, but [Brian] Keenan, the I.R.A. leader, with whom, he said, his mother had an affair in Northern Ireland in 1972. . . He first tried to argue that Mr. Keenan was his father in 2011, when he filed a lawsuit in prison asking a federal judge to declare that he was not an American citizen. At the time he was seeking to be deported.
“The next year, he tried to convince his sister, Mary Katharine Rybak. During prison visits, he showed her a notarized letter, supposedly written by their mother, to back up his claim of being Mr. Keenan’s son. She noticed their mother’s signature was not right. ‘I think he doesn’t know where the lies stop and the truth starts anymore.
“Stephen Ure, an immigration lawyer in San Diego, said Mr. Wilson had hired him to help with his effort to be sent to Britain. In 2012, Mr. Ure said, he received DNA samples via courier that according to accompanying documents, had been taken years earlier from Mr. Keenan."