Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: document fraud

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Producing Green Cards and Government Documents

An Ocean Township, N.J., man pleaded guilty Monday, January 14, 2013, to the manufacture and sale of fraudulent government documents. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison. The guilty plea is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ocean Township Police Department.

Lucio Medina-Sanchez, 37, of Ocean Township, pleaded guilty to one count of manufacturing false government identification and two counts of selling false government identification.

According to court documents, HSI special agents and local law enforcement executed a search warrant at Medina-Sanchez’s residence Feb. 2, 2012. The search resulted in the seizure of computers, laminates and other material used to create the false documents.

The investigation revealed Medina-Sanchez was manufacturing false government identification cards including Social Security cards and U.S. permanent resident cards – commonly known as green cards – inside his township apartment.

Medina-Sanchez required his customers to provide him with a passport-sized photo and a name and birth date of their choosing. The payment was determined by the type of document he manufactured.

Sentencing is scheduled in March 2013.

ICE and PRPD Target Operation Arrests 13 for Identity Theft and Document Fraud in Puerto Rico

Thirteen individuals indicted for document fraud and identity theft related charges were arrested Friday, November 16, 2012, in the municipalities of Bayamon, San Juan, and Carolina, Puerto Rico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, worked jointly with the Internal Revenue Service, Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and San Juan Police Department (SJPD) officers in an operation dubbed Game Over.

“Document and identity fraud pose a severe threat to national security and public safety because they create a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in theUnited States,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI has partnered with federal, state and local counterparts to create the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a series of multi-agency teams developed to target criminal organizations and beneficiaries behind these fraudulent schemes.”

The case involves a scheme to defraud the United States by fraudulently obtaining and converting to cash U.S. Treasury checks issued in connection with fraudulent tax returns filed with the agency. As part of the scheme, tax returns were filed using the personal identifying information of individuals, when in reality, said individuals never filed such tax returns with the IRS. The investigation has revealed that the fraudulent tax returns were filed without the consent of the taxpayers who appear in the returns.

The investigation also uncovered a scheme used by some of the defendants to obtain legitimate, counterfeit or altered Puerto Rico birth certificates, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses to facilitate the movement of illegal aliens already in Puerto Rico to the continental United States.

Those arrested are:

  • Alexander Compres-Rubio
  • Raquel Custodio
  • Jose M. Vega-Rivera
  • Fernando Rosa
  • Nidia Muñoz
  • Eduvigis Rodriguez
  • Salustiano Olivo
  • Damaris Hernandez
  • Jose Javier Serrano
  • Wander Carrasco
  • Mercedes de la Cruz
  • Norwin Santana
  • Julio Peralta

ICE encourages the public to report document and benefit fraud and related information by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

“Millennium Bomber” Receives 37-Year Prison Sentence

The Algerian native known as the “Millennium Bomber” was sentenced Wednesday, October 24, 2012, to 37 years in federal prison for his failed 1999 plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport.

The case was investigated by the special agents with the former U.S. Customs Service’s Office of Investigations, which is now part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and the FBI.

Ahmed Ressam, 45, was arrested Dec. 14, 1999, as he attempted to enter the United States through the port of entry at Port Angeles, Wash. Ressam had traveled on a ferry fromVictoria,British Columbia,Canada, in a rental car. In the vehicle, he had bomb-making materials and powerful explosives. His plan was foiled after U.S. Customs inspectors grew suspicious of his nervous demeanor.

Following an 18-day trial in 2001, Ressam was convicted on multiple charges including: act of terrorism transcending a national boundary; placing an explosive in proximity to a terminal; using false identification documents; using a fictitious name for admission; making a false statement; smuggling; transporting explosives; possessing an unregistered explosive device; and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

Facing a possible sentence of 65 years to life in prison in early 2001, Ressam agreed to provide information to the United States and testify against others. However, he stopped providing information in 2003 and now claims that he was mentally incompetent when he provided the information.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, prosecutors recommended a sentence that would keep Ressam incarcerated for life, noting that two key prosecutions have been dismissed because of his lack of cooperation. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour acknowledged that Ressam was “highly culpable and took substantial steps to carry out a horrific crime.” However in sentencing him to 37 years, the judge said a life sentence was too harsh and it was unlikely Ressam would be involved in another violent conspiracy.

In 2005, and in a second sentencing hearing in 2008, Judge Coughenour sentenced Ressam to 22 years in prison. Earlier this year the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case for resentencing, finding that the 22-year sentence was unreasonably low.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

Nigerian Man Sentenced for Stealing Murder Victim’s Identity

A Nigerian man, who came to the U.S. in 1989 and assumed the identity of a murder victim to remain in the country illegally, has pleaded guilty to exhibiting a false government document. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Office of Inspector General, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police.

Bimbo Peter Oyewole, 54, of Elizabeth, N.J., pleaded guilty to the third-degree offense, before Superior Court Judge Peter V. Ryan in Essex County, N.J.

“Document fraud poses a significant threat to both national security and public safety,” said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. “HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and other critical infrastructures in protecting the American public.”

According to court documents, Oyewole admitted that he used the name, date of birth and Social Security number of a man named Jerry E. Thomas, who was murdered in Queens, N.Y., in 1992, to obtain an airport security ID card, called a Secure Identification Display Area Card (SIDA). Oyewole used the SIDA card as a supervisor for FJC Security Services, a private firm contracted to staff vehicle access gates and provide other security services at EWR. The card gave him access to secure areas, including the tarmac and airplanes.

“The Port Authority moved swiftly to arrest this defendant and remove him from his security position at the airport when they learned he was using a false identity,” said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. “My office, in turn, worked closely with the Port Authority’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the New York City Police to investigate him, ensure he was not a threat to national security, and prosecute him for his crime.”

“Whatever the motive, it’s a serious crime to falsify government documents, particularly when it involves identity theft and issues of public security,” said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This defendant has rightly faced serious consequences. By the time he is sentenced, he will have spent roughly six months in custody and he will be a convicted felon.”

Port Authority Inspector General Robert E. Van Etten said, “Today’s conviction will serve notice to all that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will not tolerate fraud or any other criminal misconduct at its facilities. The Port Authority Office of Inspector General and its law enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate and bring to justice those who corrupt the integrity and security of our airports and facilities. I wish to thank the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and all of our law enforcement partners for their invaluable assistance, participation and contribution to this investigation.”

Oyewole entered the U.S. in January 1989 on a temporary work visa. He began using Jerry E. Thomas’ identity several weeks before Thomas was murdered on July 20, 1992. Thomas was shot outside a YMCA in Queens where he was staying. Oyewole used his identity to obtain a New Jersey driver’s license and high school equivalency diploma. He also obtained employment in Thomas’ name, holding security jobs at EWR under several private contractors.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Oyewole be sentenced to a term of probation. Oyewole is scheduled for sentencing October 19.

Oyewole came into ICE custody September 11 and is in removal proceedings. He is being detained in an ICE detention facility pending an immigration hearing before an immigration judge.

MVA Employee Enters Guilty Plea; Sold Fraudulent Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Aliens

Michael Anthony Peters, Jr. 29, of Riverdale, Md. pleaded guilty Friday, September 7, 2012, to a conspiracy to produce and sell Maryland driver’s licenses without lawful authority. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

“Michael Anthony Peters violated the public’s trust and risked endangering our community by producing and issuing Maryland driver’s licenses to individuals who could not or were not willing to legitimately pass the required MVA examination,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter. “This type of fraud poses a serious security vulnerability and could put the security of our communities and even our country at risk.”

According to his plea agreement, Peters was an employee of the MVA assigned to the Largo Branch. Peters’ duties included the issuance of Maryland driver’s licenses. Peters admitted that from July through October 2007, he received payment in exchange for producing and issuing Maryland driver’s licenses to individuals whom he knew had not passed the required tests. Many of these individuals were illegal aliens.

According to his plea agreement, Peters typically received approximately $300 as a bribe for each non-commercial driver’s license and $400 as a bribe for each commercial driver’s license he issued. Peters falsified MVA records to state that the applicants had passed the required tests and issued driver’s licenses in their names. Over the course of the conspiracy, Peters produced at least 40 driver’s licenses without lawful authority.

Peters faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 at his sentencing Dec. 18 before U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus. As part of his plea agreement, Peters will be required to pay restitution in the amount of $12,000.

The investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore and the MVA Investigation and Security Services Division.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.

Three Men Arrested for Immigration Document Fraud

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents along with the Somerset County Prosecutors Office (SCPO) and Raritan Borough Police Department arrested three men Monday, July 30, 2012, for manufacturing and possessing fraudulent government documents.

In February, HSI special agents informed SCPO detectives that Michael Arias, 31, of Raritan, N.J., was allegedly manufacturing fraudulent government documents.

In April, HSI special agents, along with SCPO detectives, conducted an undercover operation at Arias’ residence for the purpose of purchasing fraudulent U.S. government documents. A subsequent meeting occurred in July. During the undercover meeting, a fraudulent U.S. Permanent Resident Card, a fraudulent U.S. Social Security card and a fraudulent Department of Homeland Security Employment Authorization card were purchased from Arias.

On July 30, special agents and officers executed a search warrant at Arias’ residence. The search resulted in the seizure of a computer, printer, laminator, numerous government identification cards and other items that are utilized in the manufacturing of fraudulent government documents. During the execution of the search warrant, Michael Delgado Sibaja, 25, of Raritan, N.J., and Fernando Valencia Alvarado, 42, of Somerville, N.J., were present and found to be in possession of fraudulent government documents.

Arias was arrested and charged with manufacturing false government documents, trafficking in personal identification information, and forgery. Sibaja and Alvarado were both arrested and charged with possession of fraudulent government documents.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mass. RMV Worker Charged with Extensive Document Fraud

An employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles was charged Wednesday, July 18, 2012, with producing false driver’s licenses. The charge is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Vanessa Peguero, 27, of Leominster, Mass., was charged with producing a false identification document. It is alleged that from February 2010 through June 2012, Peguero issued Massachusetts’ driver’s licenses to individuals who presented legitimate Puerto Rican identity documents in an identity other than their own. This was done in order to obtain Massachusetts’ driver’s licenses to conceal their true identities.

If convicted on these charges, Peguero faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Fraudulent documents give people the appearance of lawful immigration statuses and provides them with countless opportunities to which they are not entitled,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “Anyone who fraudulently obtains a genuine government ID may pose a threat to public safety. This type of criminal activity allows dangerous criminals to obscure their identities and cover their tracks. Given the potential national security and public safety implications – since this type of crime often allows individuals who may not be in this country lawfully to obtain legitimate U.S. identity documents – Homeland Security Investigations, along with our law enforcement partners in Massachusetts, will continue to aggressively target those participating in or facilitating these types of crimes.”

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, District of Massachusetts, and Special Agent in Charge Foucart made the announcement July 18.

HSI places a high priority on investigating document and benefit fraud. These types of fraud pose a severe threat to national security and public safety because they create a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States. Document and benefit fraud are elements of many immigration-related crimes, such as human smuggling and human trafficking, critical infrastructure protection, worksite enforcement, visa compliance enforcement and national security investigations. Document fraud, also known as identity fraud, is the manufacturing, counterfeiting, alteration, sale, and/or use of identity documents and other fraudulent documents to circumvent immigration laws or for other criminal activity. Identity fraud in some cases also involves identity theft, a crime in which an imposter takes on the identity of a real person (living or deceased) for some illegal purpose.

HSI’s Identity and Benefit Fraud Unit is charged with investigating and disrupting document and benefit fraud schemes. It coordinates its investigative efforts with other U.S. Department of Homeland Security components, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Labor. The unit also develops and advances policy initiatives and proposes legislative changes to address vulnerabilities in the immigration process to deter fraud and reduce the incentives for committing document and benefit fraud.

One of the fundamental challenges in combating document fraud at state-level department of motor vehicle (DMV) locations is the identification of employee misconduct. In order to enhance identification efforts, HSI developed an outreach campaign to raise awareness about employee misconduct and alert law enforcement to identity and benefit fraud schemes perpetrated at DMV facilities. HSI encourages the public and DMV employees to report corruption via the HIS tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE and via local DMV tip lines. Reporting this crime gives the public and employees an opportunity to be a part of the solution.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris.

The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Man Deported to India for Immigration Fraud; Felony Charges

A citizen of India who fled the United States to avoid spending more than three years in prison following a federal immigration fraud conviction was extradited from India on Thursday, July 5, 2012, to face the punishment for his crimes, announced District of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. The investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led to the arrest and extradition.

Naranjan Patel, 53, formerly of South Plainfield, N.J., was convicted in June 2007 for helping ineligible aliens fraudulently file for legal residency to remain in the United States. Patel was found guilty following a jury trial of both counts of the indictment against him; one count of conspiring with others to defraud the United States and one count of submitting false immigration documents to immigration officials.

U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden sentenced Patel in October 2007 to 37 months in prison, ordering him to begin serving his sentence as directed by the Bureau of Prisons. Less than a week before his surrender date of Nov. 23, 2007, Patel fled the United States for India.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between September 2004 and February 2006, Patel conspired with Jonathan Saint Preux and his wife Michele Saint Preux to file fraudulent immigration applications on behalf of hundreds of illegal aliens who were seeking permanent residency status in the United States under a government sponsored amnesty program. The program allowed aliens to eventually seek permanent residency status if they could demonstrate they had illegally resided in the United States continuously between 1982 and 1988.

Patel and his co-conspirators helped aliens who did not meet these requirements file immigration forms which fraudulently represented that they did. The conspirators also coached the applicants on what to say during interviews with immigration officials.

During the conspiracy, co-conspirator Jonathan Saint Preux was an attorney specializing in immigration law, with an office in Irvington, N.J. Patel’s primary role in the conspiracy was to recruit alien applicants, but he also helped Jonathan Saint Preux and Michele Saint Preux file fraudulent applications and coach the applicants. The law offices of Jonathan Saint Preux received thousands of dollars in exchange for their services.

Patel will now begin serving the 37-month sentence imposed for those crimes.

Jonathan Saint Preux and Michele Saint Preux pleaded guilty in April 2007 to submitting false immigration documents to immigration officials. Jonathan Saint Preux was subsequently sentenced to 57 months in prison. Michele Saint Preux, who served as her husband’s office manager, was sentenced to a five-year term of probation.

The Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, under the direction of New Jersey District Director John E. Thompson, played key roles in the extradition process.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronnell L. Wilson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division inNewark.

30 Fugitives at Large for Document Fraud Ring

Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) are searching for 30 suspects in five states after three indictments were unsealed in federal court alleging their involvement in a scheme to illegally obtain driver’s licenses from New Mexico.

According to the indictments, the defendants were in the United States illegally, and traveled from South Carolina and surrounding areas to New Mexico to apply for New Mexico driver’s licenses. The indictments set out that New Mexico, unlike South Carolina, does not require proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain a driver’s license. It further sets out that the defendants obtained false proof of New Mexico residency, such as utility bills, and provided them to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department when applying for driver’s licenses in New Mexico. Those defendants would then return to the South Carolina area, and co-defendants living in New Mexico would later mail them the fraudulently applied for and obtained New Mexico driver’s licenses.

Charged in one indictment are: Alma Rosa Ortiz-Calzada, age 54, and Jesus Ortiz, age 29, both of Charleston, S.C.; Ivon Baray-Luna, age 31, Alfred Padilla, age 47, Victor Alvarez, age 25 and Elizabeth Lopez a/k/a “La Guera” a/k/a “Betty,” age 42, all of Albuquerque, N.M.; Alfredo Saenz, age 39, of Rio Rancho, N.M. and Yusimy Valdez a/k/a “Yusimi” a/k/a “Lusimy” and Gavy Lnu, both with unknown ages and residences.

A second indictment charges: Marcos Medina-Zavaleta, age 23, of Hanahan, S.C.; Concepcion Prieto-Juarez, age 29, Alejandra Torricos-Cuellar, age 20, Juan Pablo Valladares-Martinez, age 31 and Gustavo Torricos-Vargas, age 41, all of Charleston, S.C.; Jose Alvarez-Robles, age 30, of Ladson, S.C.; Jorge Alvarez-Chavez, age 32 and Luis Alvarez-Robles, age 22, both of North Charleston, S.C.; Gonzalo Garcia-Gines, age 29, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Salvador Hernandez-Santillan, age 36, of Summerville, S.C.; and Fabian Sanchez-Hernandez, age 32 and Horacio Jasso-Hernandez, age 35, both of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

A third indictment charges: Bulmaro Perez-Perez, age 35, of Doraville, Ga.; Darco Jordan-Tapia, age 32 and Marisol Pantoja-Loredo, age 23, both of Charleston, S.C.; Roberto Trejo-Lopez, age 22 and Arturo Trejo-Lopez, age 18, both of Chantilly, Va.; Ruben Trejo-Lopez, age 24, of Centreville, Va.; Jesus Octaviano-Leyva, age 40, of Charlotte, N.C.; Gabriel Sotelo, age 42, of North Charleston, S.C.; and Jose Luis Hernandez-Delgado, age 28, of Knoxville, Tenn.

The indictments allege conspiracy to transfer false identification documents and to transport illegal aliens; producing and transferring false identification documents; and, transporting illegal aliens. Conspiracy to transfer, and to produce, false identity documents, as well as the transfer and production of those documents, each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. Conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, as well as transporting illegal aliens, both carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

The indictments are the result of an investigation conducted by HSI and the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams of the Charleston office is prosecuting the case.

Dominican Republic National Arrested for Identity Theft

A 49-year-old Dominican Republic man wanted for document fraud and identity theft was arrested early the week of June 14, 2012, at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents.

Victor Manuel Rivera, at large since January, is one of 50 individuals indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to commit identification fraud in connection with a scheme to traffic the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and their corresponding identity documents. The charges are the result of an extensive investigation led by HSI in partnership with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The indictment, unsealed Jan. 11, alleges that from at least April 2009 to December 2011, conspirators in 15 states and Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, trafficked the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, corresponding Social Security cards, Puerto Rico birth certificates and other identification documents to undocumented aliens and others residing in the United States.

The indictment alleges that conspirators located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, (Savarona suppliers) obtained the Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Conspirators in various locations throughout the United States (identity brokers) solicited customers. The identity brokers allegedly sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. The indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls, including using terms such as “shirts,” “uniforms” or “clothes,” to refer to identity documents. Specifically, the brokers asked for “skirts” for female customers and “pants” for male customers in various “sizes,” which referred to the ages of the identities sought by the customers.

According to the indictment, the Savarona suppliers generally requested that customers’ initial payments be sent by the identity brokers through a money transfer service to persons whose names were provided by the Savarona suppliers. Savarona suppliers allegedly retrieved the payments from the money transfer service and then sent the identity documents to the brokers using express, priority or regular U.S. mail. The indictment alleges that various conspirators sent or received money and mail parcels. The conspirators frequently confirmed sender names and addresses, money transfer control numbers and trafficked identities via text messaging.

The indictment further alleges that once the identity brokers received the identity documents, they delivered the documents to the customers and obtained second payments. The brokers generally kept the second payments for themselves as profit. Some identity brokers allegedly assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves, and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation.

As alleged in the indictment, the customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempts to obtain a U.S. passport.