A real-life case of identity theft – Sarah Luke

A woman sits at a cafe table reading about Sarah Luke’s identity theft case on her tablet.

Australian Sarah Luke was the victim of a data breach, but that was only the beginning. Here’s the full story of what happened and how Norton helped.

Sarah Luke’s story sounds like something straight out of a movie—except it was all too real. In November 2022, Sarah discovered that her personal information (and that of her four children) had been compromised. At first, it felt pretty standard: Data breaches to large corporations are unfortunately common in this digital age. But Sarah’s story quickly took a turn away from the mundane.

The first sign that things were about to get complicated popped up in December 2022, when cybercriminals took control of her PayPal account in a credential stuffing attack. In just two days, the criminals used her account to buy and sell more than $1 million worth of counterfeit Adidas and NBA goods. 

An American lawsuit

But it didn’t end there. Even though Sarah didn’t know about the fraudulent charges, Adidas and the NBA both filed damages lawsuits against her, for a total of over $1.8 million . As a single mum of four living in Australia, Sarah couldn’t attend to the court hearings in Illinois and Florida. This resulted in the courts running the cases ‘ex parte,’ which means not all parties had to be present. As a result, both courts issued default judgements that found Sarah responsible for paying the damages requested by the massive corporations. 

Seeking redress, Sarah turned to PayPal Australia to see how this had happened. After not getting anywhere, Sarah reached out to Adidas and NBA to let them know of the situation. The charges against her were upheld. So, after exhausting all of the options in Australia, including going to the Australian Financial Complaints Association (AFCA), she turned to the media.

Norton steps in

Norton has Identity Restoration capabilities and specialists that can help a victim every step of the way and when the Australian team saw Sarah’s story, we decided to step in and offer our expertise. Norton stepped in to offer our product and services to her retroactively and free of charge to try and help her remediate her identity theft event. Norton restoration specialists evaluated her situation. From there, the team got to work on helping restore her identity.

Raquel Garcia, her dedicated Norton Restoration Specialist, provided invaluable assistance throughout the ordeal. Offering White Glove Services, Raquel guided her through the remediation process with expertise and care. Raquel worked tirelessly to help Sarah resolve her case and maintained regular communication, easing Sarah’s fear, stress, and confusion. Together, our team invested over 70 hours to help Sarah restore her identity.

With the help of the Norton team and its specialists, Sarah’s identity restoration was successful. 

Reflecting on this tumultuous journey through identity fraud, legal battles, and financial losses, Sarah recognises the urgent proactive need for robust cybersecurity measures. Sharing her story serves as a poignant reminder for both businesses and individuals to prioritise online security, protecting against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. Don’t wait until it’s too late and suffer the same harms Sarah did. Subscribe to Norton Identity Advisor Plus or Norton 360 Advanced today so that if you’re ever the victim of identity theft you have help and assistance and can take advantage of the identity restoration knowledge from Norton.

By prioritising cybersecurity, individuals and families can safeguard their digital lives, ensuring privacy in an era where the consequences of a breach extend far beyond the digital realm.

Norton has shared his tips for guarding yourself against identity theft:

  • Be careful with what you share online: Scammers can find out where you live, work, and visit through your social media posts. Think twice before posting something that might reveal important information regarding your identity.
  • Protect your accounts with strong passwords: Less than half (42%) of Australians create complex, unique passwords for each of their accounts, and only a third (33%) change their passwords regularly. It is important to protect your online accounts with strong passwords, and never use the same passwords twice to decrease the likelihood of a cybercriminal cracking the code. A strong password contains a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Know the warning signs: It is important to understand the tell-tale signs that your data has been compromised, so you can intercept as soon as possible. Unusual charges to your bank account, unexpected texts, email, or mail, are all signs that your identity could be compromised.
  • Install robust security software: Security software gives you an extra layer of security and peace of mind. Norton Identity Advisor Plus or Norton 360 Advanced comes with dedicated on-hand Identity Restoration Specialists and will monitor the dark web and your social media account to assist you in identifying risks and advising on steps you can take to protect yourself.
  • Be prepared to act if your data is compromised: If you are impacted by a data breach, you should immediately change all your passwords, and report the breach to your bank. Your data will still be vulnerable and a hot target for cybercriminals, so be extra cautious of unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls. You should also consider placing a block on your credit file.

Learn about Norton 360 Advanced here

Emma McGowan
  • Emma McGowan
Emma McGowan is a privacy advocate & managing editor at Gen, formerly a freelance writer for outlets like Buzzfeed & Mashable. She enjoys reading, sewing, & her cats Dwight & Poe.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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