BOSTON – Six individuals were arrested today in Lawrence and charged in federal court in Boston with identity theft and Social Security fraud.
The following six Lawrence residents were each charged in federal court in separate criminal complaints with one count of misuse of a Social Security number and one count of aggravated identity theft:
- John Doe, whose true identity is unknown, allegedly requested a replacement Social Security card in the name of a deceased U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico while in jail on state drug charges. The mother of the deceased U.S. citizen confirmed that the photograph used by the suspect was not her son’s. In November 2018, the suspect attempted to obtain Medicaid benefits using the stolen identity, but appeared deceased in the Social Security system.
- John Doe, whose true identity is unknown, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute heroin while using the identity of a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico. A comparison of license photos and booking photos, both in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, allegedly revealed that the individual in Massachusetts was using a fraudulent identity.
- Lenin Alfredo Amparo, 44, a Dominican national with Lawful Permanent Residency status, with an extensive criminal history, including drug conspiracies, assault and battery, breaking and entering, destruction of property, and operating under the influence, submitted an application for a Massachusetts driver’s license in the identity of a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico.
- Julissa Ranee Acosta Estevez, 45, a Dominican national, presented the name, Social Security card, and birth certificate of a deceased U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico as her own when she applied for a Massachusetts driver’s license. Acosta Estevez used the stolen identity to apply for and receive approximately $6,500 in unemployment insurance benefits. Social Security records verify a 2016 death record associated with the stolen identity as well as a 2017 application filed for child for survivor benefits in Puerto Rico.
- Andres Aridio Contrera Diaz, 30, a Dominican national, presented a name, Social Security number, and date of birth of a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico in an application for a Massachusetts driver’s license. In addition, Contrera Diaz has received approximately $6,117 in unemployment insurance in the name of the stolen identity. Social Security records revealed the victim whose identity was stolen resides in Puerto Rico. Subsequent investigation discovered the victim had never been to Massachusetts, let alone applied for benefits in Massachusetts.
- Raul Alexander Guerrero-Sanchez, 35, a Dominican national, when arrested for drug offenses, including distribution of heroin and distribution of cocaine, presented the identification of a U.S. citizen and resident of Puerto Rico as his own.
“These were targeted investigations, aimed specifically at identifying people who have stolen the identities of others,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “And the continued emphasis on the City of Lawrence is no coincidence: with the help of state and local partners, we will continue targeting drug, gun, and immigration-related crime in that city until the crime rate there drops substantially. This has been, and will continue to be, a top priority of my office.”
“Today’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to stopping the real threats and devastating financial impacts that American taxpayers and citizens face from the danger of identity theft crimes,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “Along with our local and federal partners, we look forward to the successful prosecution of these individuals who have literally robbed the identities and stolen directly out of the pockets of American taxpayers.”
The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), comprised of various local, state and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity and benefit fraud schemes.
Among those individuals that the DBFTF is currently investigating are suspected aliens, predominately from the Dominican Republic, who are believed to have obtained stolen identities of United States citizens living in Puerto Rico and who have used those identities to obtain documents and public benefits that they would not otherwise be eligible to receive, such as Registry of Motor Vehicles identity documents, Social Security numbers, Medicaid, unemployment and public housing subsidies.
U.S. Attorney Lelling; HSI SAC Fitzhugh; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; William B. Gannon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office; Michael Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; Joseph Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; Denis C. Riordan, District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, District 1; and Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Tobin of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the cases.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.