Lisa Irwin: Does debit card charge prove she’s alive?

Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, parents of missing baby, Lisa Irwin appeared on the TODAY show on Monday to talk about debit card charges that are suspicious.

Irwin explained that a month after Lisa disappeared, his debit card was suspended because of fraudulent charge of $69.04, and two other charges were attempted.

Irwin came across the fraudulent charges on his debit card in December and contacted the Fraud Prevention unit for his Visa Check Card.

What is now a new twist in the case is who the charge was made to.  A British website that helps you legally change “you or your child’s name” online.

So, as I watched the TODAY show, I saw they had a website called UK Deed Poll Service on the screen.  I looked it up and found it is where they provide deed polls.  What is a deed poll.  Well, it is a document used in the UK so you can change your name or a child’s name yourself.

The website states:

“Although Deed Poll documents are used for various purposes relating to an individual or a company legally committing themselves to doing something, they have one generally accepted meaning, that is, a change of name.  However, the correct legal name for a deed that has been drawn up to change someone’s name is a Deed of Change of Name (but more commonly known as a Deed Poll).”

But, after doing more investigating, I found that there is a misconception about deed polls.  Many people, mostly because of websites, think that you need to purchase a deed poll, but in reality you only need to write up a declaration stating you are changing your name.  There is no law against changing your name as long as you are not doing it to do something illegal.

But getting official documents with your changed name is a whole different matter, at least in the U.S.

For example, if you wanted to move to Tulsa, and have everyone start calling you John Oklahoma, you can.  But, if you want to buy a house as John Oklahoma you can’t without legally changing your name, as that would entail petitioning a court for approval.

Digging further I looked for the criteria for changing a child’s name on their website.  It is pretty simple.  They require a letter written to them and signed by one or both of the parents.  No notary required.

Also interesting is what they say about birth certificate name change:

“If you cannot get your child’s birth certificate changed, you can change your child’s name by Deed Poll.  After you have used your child’s Deed Poll document to get your child’s documents and records changed to the new name, you need to keep the Deed Poll document safe with your child’s birth certificate.  In the future, if you are required to prove your child’s identity, you will need to produce your child’s birth certificate and Deed Poll document.  The new name on your child’s Deed Poll overrides the name on the birth certificate.”

So, even in the UK, you need a birth certificate to show your identity and unless you can “buy” one somewhere, changing a child’s name via a Deed Poll seems like a worthless notion.

But, I didn’t stop there, I also checked to see how $69.04 would be equivalent to EUROs (please see comment section that says I should be saying British pounds not EUROs).  The amount would be approximately 54 Euros.  I say approximately, because it does vary a bit, and I am not sure exactly what is was November of 2011.

I found that the website has a package deal for 54 Euros.  (see photo)

I am not saying that this was exactly what was charged on Irwin’s credit card or even if this was the same website, but it does show it could have been done and the price would be a match.

But, the question remains, why.  From what I see, it would not be any help.  The name change is not a legal piece of paper in the U.S.  It may be useful in the U.K., but I don’t believe you would be able to get a passport with it.

So, I would say if you purchased one to use it here in the U.S., it would be about as  official as becoming an online minister.  Anyone can become a minister, and even perform weddings, but it doesn’t transfer as useful for anything else.

So, does it prove Lisa’s alive?  Sadly, I don’t think so, and I so much wanted it to.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

1 Comment

  1. First of all, it is not Euros, it's British Pounds. A euro conversion of $69.04 would not be 54 Euros – but it could have been accurate for pounds.

    Lastly, I don't think they're trying to prove their daughter is alive, per-say, but rather that someone could have taken her (kidnapping), which – as we know – isn't unheard of, sadly.

    For the baby to be taken (smuggled, really) out of the U.S. and into Europe, then going through the UK by obtaining a British Passport (whether real or fake) could be theoretically possible – as they would need to obtain a new name for the kidnapped infant via the UK deed service, then go through the process of getting a passport (claiming the infant's passport was lost or stolen – or faking one).

    This would probably result in a colossal failure UNLESS they were able to slide by the TSA… as passports for infants are checked rigorously due to the possibility of kidnapping (mostly by parents who are in custody battles). So the chances are, this may not work. But if they were to go across the Canada or Mexico border — then things could be very very different.

    The most important information that could be gleaned from this transaction is what name is being requested (obviously), and where this name change “deed” would be mailed to.

    I believe there IS something to this… especially since they are using the credit card of Lisa's father.

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