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Thursday, November 02, 2017

The Curse of Common Names

News summary by MFWire's editors

Having a common name can be blessing, offering a bit of anonymity in a time when everyone can google you or search social media in mere moments. Yet that same blessing can turn to curse, too, as one Midwestern FA discovered this week.

George Papadopoulos of Novi, Michigan is a fee-only financial planner and an accountant with his own RIA, a website, and an active Twitter presence. And thanks to a certain former Trump campaign advisor pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, "this is not the week to be named George Papadopoulos," as the Wall Street Journal puts it.

The WSJ, the Boston Globe, and InvestmentNews all highlight the Michigan-based advisor's efforts to clear up the confusion after the former campaign adviser's guilty plea was made public at the beginning of the week. On Monday the advisor Papadopoulos posted a tweet, which he has pinned to the top of his feed:

"For the nth time, I am NOT Trump's foreign policy adviser! I have NO association with the Trump camp! NONE!," he wrote.

It turns out that "George Papadopoulos," as one Twitter user pointed out, "is to Greeks what John Smith is to the English." Indeed, Ancestry.com family historian Mellissa Betts tells the WSJ that George is the most common Greek first name and Papadopoulos is the most common surname. The paper estimates that there are "hundreds of George Papadopouloses in the U.S.," including a 26-year-old in Scottsdale, Arizona, a 34-year-old architect in New York City, and a 30-year-old at a real estate development firm in New York.

Naming confusion can hit companies, too. Back in the financial crisis, the Bernie Madoff scandal led to a Ariel sending a cease-and-desist letter to a similarly named firm being hit by lawsuits over its losses with Madoff. Meanwhile, mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments and software titan Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) are unrelated, as are Prudential Financial here in the U.S. and Prudential plc in England. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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