Imagine checking in with your favorite news source only to discover that officials in Dubai are looking for you in connection with a murder. And they're not seeking someone with your name or who vaguely matches your appearance — they want you specifically. You know this because they've published images of your passport ... except it isn't quite right. That's not your picture, or your signature, or your date of birth, but the rest is spot-on.
Now imagine the murder in which you're implicated is the assassination of Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
That was the situation faced in 2010 by 26 westerners living in Israel, including Australian citizen Nicole McCabe, who was six months pregnant at the time and probably needed all that sleep she was about to lose thinking about death squads bent on payback [sources: ABC News, Herald Sun].
An intelligence expert told the Herald Sun of Victoria, Australia, that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which prefers to use real identities as covers for its agents, saw the large number of foreigners living in Israel as a perfect source. It didn't matter that they'd never been to Dubai, or that their passports had never been stolen — because the information was lifted from government databases, it remained beyond their control from the beginning.
At last report, the Australian government had offered little help to McCabe and her two fellow Aussies beyond a new passport. They strongly advised her to take it: The old one was likely to land her on wanted lists everywhere she traveled [sources: ABC News, Herald Sun].