TAMPA, Fla. — After having his identity stolen, John Helinski was left homeless and nameless for three years — no identification, no Social Security card and only a box to live on.
Suddenly, he’s back on his feet and ready to buy a home and collect pension.
“He needed to have an identification, but we couldn’t get an identification without a birth certificate,” case worker Charles Inman said.
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to solve that problem, Helinski was born in Poland (as an American citizen).
“We first had to figure out that we needed a consular record of foreign birth or something like that,” said Tampa police Officer Dan McDonald, who pitched in to help Helinski.
Once those papers were squared away, McDonald and Inman were able to get Helinski a driver’s license and a Social Security card.
That’s when Helinski remembered an old bank account.
The Bank of America account was still there. And the Social Security Administration had still been paying Helinski benefits for years.
Now the man is thinking about buying his own place, and he’ll have monthly benefits to live on.
“I guess I’m exhilarated, excited, you know,” he said.