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

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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. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Allison Mendez, 32, of Melrose Park,Ill., was arrested Feb. 13 and charged in a criminal complaint with selling false identification documents.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between May 2012 and Jan. 2013 Mendez allegedly sold nine sets of false identification documents on six occasions. A set included a counterfeit U.S. permanent resident card (green card) and a counterfeit social security card.

During the course of the investigation, cooperating witnesses posing as customers allegedly placed orders for false documents with Mendez by sending her a text message with the photograph and the biographical information they wanted to appear on the documents. Mendez then delivered the completed documents to customers, charging between $80 and $110 for a set of counterfeit cards, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges that during a recorded conversation with a cooperating witness, Mendez stated she had been in the counterfeit document business for about 15 years and that her software program could make social security cards, insurance cards, green cards and drivers’ licenses.

HSI was assisted in this investigation by the Chicago Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, with additional support provided by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Addison Police Department.

If convicted, Mendez faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. As an illegal alien from Nicaragua, Mendez will be placed into deportation proceedings upon conclusion of her criminal case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Young, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Two Plead Guilty for Identity Fraud Scheme

Two individuals pleaded guilty and four others were sentenced in Newark federal court in connection with their roles in a large-scale identity theft scheme.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents along with agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to court documents, Sang-Hyun Park, aka “Jimmy,” was the leader of a criminal enterprise that operated in Bergen County, N.J., and elsewhere, that engaged in identity theft and financial fraud. Park pleaded guilty Jan. 9, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing. Park and his co-conspirators obtained Social Security cards beginning with “586.” These Social Security cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories. The enterprise sold these Social Security cards, together with genuinely issued or counterfeit driver’s licenses, to its customers for a fee. Members of the enterprise engaged in the fraudulent “build-up” of credit scores associated with the Chinese identities. They did so by adding the Chinese identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service – members of the enterprise’s credit build-up teams. By attaching the Chinese identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the Chinese identities to between 700 and 800. After building the credit associated with these identities, Park and his co-conspirators directed, coached and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his co-conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. In particular, Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe, machines. For a fee, known as a “kkang fee,” these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit cards related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his co-conspirators, minus their “kkang fee.”

Hyo-II Song, aka “Daniel”, 49, of Fort Lee, N.J., was sentenced Friday, July 27, 2012, to 65 months in prison, ordered to pay $1.08 million in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release. Song pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden Feb. 10, 2012, to a three-count Information that charged him with unlawfully producing identification documents, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Hyun-Yop Sung, aka “James”, 43, of Carlstadt, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 45 months in prison, ordered to pay $145,576.27 in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release.

Sung pleaded guilty Jan. 25, 2012, to a two-count Information that charged him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Young-Hee Ju, aka “Stephanie,” 43, of Closter, N.J., pleaded guilty before Judge Hayden to an Information charging her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ju faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on count one and a two-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment on count two. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Alex S. Lee, 44, of Palisades Park, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to six months home confinement, three years probation and ordered to pay $118,891 in restitution. Lee pleaded guilty Feb. 6, 2012, to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and false identification document, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Yong Kim Lee, 57, of Linden, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information that charged her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Lee faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Kang-Hyok Choi, of Valley Stream, N.Y., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to an Indictment charging him with credit card fraud. Choi is currently serving a 75-year sentence in New Jersey related to a triple homicide, and his federal time was ordered to run concurrent with his state time.

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

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.

Eight Arizona Residents Indicted for Immigration and Identity Fraud Ring

Eight Phoenix-area residents were indicted Wednesday, March 21,  by a federal grand jury for their involvement in an elaborate passport and Social Security fraud ring designed to conceal the true identities of Mexican nationals in order to shield them from detection by U.S. immigration authorities.

The 16-count indictment follows an extensive investigation led by the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, with significant investigative and legal assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Office of the Chief Counsel (OCC) Phoenix.
Named in the indictment are:

  • Esther Gonzales Guerrero, 45, of Peoria, Ariz.;
  • Magdalena Adelisa Gonzales Guerrero,
    23, of Peoria;
  • Luis Arsenio Chavez Velazquez, 37, of
  • Aldair Guerra Lopez, 22, of Peoria;
  • Teodoro Bueno Figueroa, 36, of Phoenix;
  • Juan Gabriel Echevarria Mendoza, 34,
    of Phoenix; and
  • Armando Garcia Chavez, 50, of
    Surprise, Ariz.

According to the indictment, Esther Guerrero and her daughter, Magdalena Guerrero, both U.S. citizens, procured counterfeit Mexican documents that falsely identified the other defendants, all Mexican nationals, as the biological children of Esther Guerrero or her U.S. citizen parents. The six Mexican national defendants then used the counterfeit Mexican documents to fraudulently obtain U.S. passports under false names. Five of the other defendants used the fraudulent passports to obtain Social Security cards under the false names.

Further, the indictment charges the mother and daughter with harboring the other
defendants from U.S. immigration authorities. Three of the Mexican national defendants were previously ordered removed from the United States and face charges for illegal reentry of a removed alien.

“A U.S. passport provides our nation’s citizens benefits while travelling abroad, allows them to reenter the United States upon their return home, and serves as an important identification document,” said Acting United States Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “Those who make false statements on passport applications and Social Security forms to conceal their true identities and to keep their illegal presence in the United States hidden from authorities, diminish the ability of all citizens to utilize and rely on this form of identification.”

“ICE will use every legal tool at its disposal to help our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecute those who commit immigration fraud or otherwise exploit our nation’s laws for their own personal gain,” said Patricia Vroom, ICE’s chief counsel in Phoenix. “This case has been a true team effort and I am proud of the hard work and expertise that our ICE prosecutor has provided in order to ensure these individuals are brought to justice.”

“These arrests should send a strong message to those who hope to game our nation’s
lawful immigration system through fraud and deceit,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. “HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and dismantle these criminal enterprises and bring egregious immigration law violators to justice.”

Additional investigative and law enforcement support was provided by the Social Security
Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S.
Marshals Service, the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Office of Special Investigations, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department.

Ian Simons, a special U.S. attorney with OCC Phoenix, is serving as co-counsel for the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Kokanovich of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of

A conviction for passport fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. A conviction for social security fraud carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

19 Arrested Nationwide for Identity Theft and Fraud Network

Late the week of March 16, federal authorities arrested 19 individuals in nine states for their involvement in Operation “Open Market,” an investigation into a transnational criminal organization operating principally out of Las Vegas. The operation’s members bought and sold stolen personal and financial information online and engaged in crimes such as identity theft and counterfeit credit card trafficking.

“The extent of the theft and sale of personal and financial information uncovered by this investigation is astonishing,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden. “Electronic mediums have made it much easier for persons and groups to sell and trade stolen information and fraudulent documents nationally and internationally. We are working vigilantly with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute the persons who commit these types of crimes.”

Agents with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s  (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested five people in Las Vegas Thursday, March 15, and another 14 people in California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia. Their charges include racketeering, conspiracy, and production and trafficking in false identification documents and access device cards. A total of 50 individuals were charged in the investigation; however, the names of several defendants have been redacted and remain sealed because they have not yet been arrested.

“The indictments and arrests in this case are yet another example of how the Secret  Service continues to promote the Department of Homeland Security’s mission of providing a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment,” said A.T. Smith, the Secret Service’s assistant director for investigations. “The successful partnerships fostered by the Secret Service’s electronic crimes task forces result in ground-breaking investigations such as Operation Open Market.”

“The actions of computer hackers and identity thieves not only harm countless innocent Americans, but the threat they pose to our financial system and global commerce cannot be understated,” said James Dinkins, executive associate director of ICE HSI. “The criminals involved in such schemes may think they can escape detection by hiding behind their computer screens here and overseas, but as this case shows, cyberspace is not a refuge from justice.”

This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and HSI with substantial support provided by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Computer Crimes Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Andrew W. Duncan.

This law enforcement action was facilitated by President Obama’s Financial Fraud
Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Task Force wages aggressive and coordinated efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement that collectively bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.

in Operation ‘Open Market’

27 Miami
Boozer III
23 Detroit
20 Morgantown, W.Va.
31 Newark,N.J.
22 San Francisco
17 New York
34 Las Vegas
27 New York
Ray Camez
20 Las Vegas
25 Augusta,Ga.
37 Las Vegas
31 Orlando,Fla.
18 New York
33 Sacramento,Calif.
32 Springfield, Mo.,
38 Sacramento
38 Sacramento
21 Springfield,Orlando
50 Orlando
47 Las Vegas
40 Las Vegas
49 Warren,Ohio
53 San Diego

All defendants named above, except those marked with **, have been arrested.