A Mexican native who was deported twice from the United States had been using a stolen identity to illegally obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits.
A man whose name may be Andres Avelino Anduaga committed identity theft over the last 37 years to rack up $361,000 in government funds.
Most of the time Anduaga was receiving social security benefits, he was living in Tijuana, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Anduaga admitted Thursday to assuming the identity of a U.S. citizen in 1980 and illegally obtaining around a quarter-million dollars in Supplemental Security Income benefits and over a hundred thousand dollars in health benefits, authorities said in a press release.
“The programs that this defendant stole from—for decades—provide benefits to America’s most needy,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to protecting the integrity of our welfare programs and punishing those who prey on the goodwill of our nation and its taxpayers.”
U.S. Border Patrol Spokesman Michael Scappechio said, “Criminal cases in the border region oftentimes have an immigration nexus. In the spirit of law enforcement collaboration, the U.S. Border Patrol supports local, state and other federal partners in the prosecution of people who violate our nation’s immigration laws.”
Using a fake birth certificate, Anduaga applied for a California driver’s license, Social Security number, and U.S. passport.
The official documents identified the man as Abraham Riojos, born in Alpine in Texas in 1958.
The documents enabled Anduaga to move freely between the United States and Mexico, and he spent most of his time living in Mexico.
Social Security benefits can only go to U.S. citizens of valid visa holders, and they must live in the United States.
Investigators unraveled the scheme after the Social Security office in Chula Vista alerted its Inspector General that some private mailboxes near the U.S.-Mexico border may be linked to residency fraud.
Rijos was summoned in 2015 after a routine check into his benefits and told investigators that he was renting a room in the San Diego area.
The investigation continued into 2016, when investigators visited the home that Riojos claimed to be renting but was told by the landlord that Riojos actually lived in Mexico.
Investigators found that Anduaga was linked to 21 different names and six dates of birth, and had committed a number of crimes that prompted two deportations, including a firearms violation, forgery, and cocaine possession.
Anduaga was deported in 1994 and 2000.
They also found that Anduaga had tried to sign up for disability benefits in Oceanside under the same Abraham Riojos name, but with a fake birth certificate with the same date and place of birth.
Anduaga agreed to pay full restitution for the $361,000 he fraudulently obtained. He faces up to 12 years in a federal prison and a fine of up to $917,000.
Sentencing is set for May 29.
Authorities said the man who Anduaga stole the identity from didn’t appear to know Anduaga.