Am I getting mail for a fake person or a real person?
March 8, 2023 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Why am I getting mail for someone who may or may not exist?

For over a year, we have received a subscription to People magazine at our home. But it's not for us. It's for someone with a very distinct name. Someone who as far as I can find out has never been a prior owner of our home. Before this subscription, mail with mistaken recipients was for recent prior owners.

We had read that People magazine sometimes sends out subscriptions under fake names to encourage homeowner interest, leading to increased subscriptions, so we shrugged it off and assumed this was an example of that.

But, today we received a cryptic piece of air mail that just showed our address on the front and came from a country in which I have cousins. I opened it, and read the contents very confused, but then saw that it was actually meant for the person I had to this point presumed was nonexistent . It was a bank notice saying the bank was closing the person's account because it was under a threshold.

I looked up the person's name and my locality because I was now confused and concerned why someone might assign a random magazine subscription to our house and also would open a bank account with our address.

The individual is listed as being employed by a large government agency near to where we live. But, they have almost no internet presence and the pictures of them online look fake. I don't know how else to describe it. There's something uncanny valley about the linkedin photo and the other photos related to their work look photoshopped.

Is this a real person, or a fake person? What's going on here?
posted by donut_princess to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
One plausible explanation: This is a real person who lives in your town and has a similar address to yours — think 123 Sycamore St. vs. 123 Sycamore Lane.

Try asking your postal carrier about it next time you see them.

I wouldn’t read too much into the “weird internet presence” thing. Many people have little to no internet presence, and Google dredges up weird random content to fill the gaps.
posted by mekily at 8:02 PM on March 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

I used to use fake names to sign up for free trials, so I used to get magazines and junk mail delivered to a consistent fake name. I can’t explain the rest of it, though.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:37 PM on March 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

unpaid magazine subscriptions are not meant to “encourage homeowner interest, leading to increased subscriptions” as much as they are meant to show advertisers and potential advertisers that the magazine has far more subscribers and a much wider circulation than in truth it has, hoping to bring in more advertising dollars. That is why magazine subscriptions are so cheap these days, they make far more money on advertising than on subscription sales, but with out the subscribers they will not get advertisers. The rest of the stuff is weird. Someone may be using a fake address and name to open a bank account……But whatever it is, I don’t think it is anything you have to worry about or “solve”. If the unwanted mail bothers you Just write “return to sender, addressee unknown” and put in a mailbox. Hopefully your address will be removed from the mailing list (and incidentally, the unwanted mail will multiply because People Magazine probably sells their mailing list).
posted by Lylo at 9:42 PM on March 8, 2023

The person may not have been a prior owner, but they still could have lived there. THe prior resident of my home received mail for her mother who has a distinct and different last name than her, it could have been a border or any other number of reasons. As for the bank statement, not sure about what country it came from or to, but most banks here in the USA have due dilligence requirements to know their customer and will either use a service or confirm the address or will do it themselves, but they will confirm the identity and address of anyone opening an account. Once the account is open, I guess someone could put a change of address in, but why do that if it is to an address over which you have no control?

Small bank account value, phony subscriptions, maybe someone is trying to establish that they lived in the country in which you reside for some reason. Immigration or tax reasons perhaps.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:25 PM on March 8, 2023

The junk mail follows the subscription -- magazines sell their mailing lists a lot, which includes this name-address combination.

People is one of those magazines where there's a "buy this/sign up for this/get a free or discounted magazine subscription' option on the sites I've used in the past; the person may have done this, entered the wrong address, and since it was free they never followed up on why they never received it.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:00 AM on March 9, 2023

My son was given a gift magazine subscription. It ended, but many other magazines from that publisher showed up unbidden. It took some effort to make them stop. Magazine publishers need subscribers to get advertising revenues and will happily send magazines. Write a note to the mail carrier with the mail, they know how to deal with this. Though they are wildly understaffed and may not, but it's not your responsibility.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 AM on March 9, 2023

Government agency, flaky looking web presence, people who never lived at your address. I choose to believe that this is someone setting up a fake person for some clandestine purpose, and you've stumbled onto it. Next you'll get a padded envelope with a dozen passports and a fake birth certificate, and one day a woman dressed entirely in black, with a foreign accent, will come to your house and say random things as though she was looking for a countersign.
Probably it's something boring, but one can hope.
posted by AugustusCrunch at 10:49 AM on March 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

It does seem that there's a coincidence here that might be more than a Buttle/Tuttle glitch. I have 25 years experience with skiptracing people, so if you want any extra help, memail and we can rappel into the rabbit hole together - a MeFI stranger freebie offer that I have extended around these parts before.
posted by Glomar response at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

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