Identity Theft Ring Busted by Feds in Boston

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( — July 31, 2018) — Twenty four men and one woman were charged in federal court in Boston on Thursday, July 26, with the crime of identify fraud. A news release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office announced that twenty one of the suspects were Dominican nationals residing illegally in the United States.

The group allegedly committed fraud by obtaining RMV identity documents, social security numbers, and passports, and were also charged with collecting benefits intended for the needy such as Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and public housing subsidies. Some members of the group even registered to vote using the stolen documentation.

Records from court proceedings confirm that all the suspects, except one, used the stolen identity to acquire a driver’s license or state ID, and that nineteen applied for MassHealth benefits. The alleged criminals also used the stolen identifications to pad their bank accounts with one individual collecting $51,270 in rent subsidies from the Boston Housing Authorities, with two more collecting over $25,000 of unemployment benefits intended for other people.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the charges at a press conference also held in Boston. The charges were filed after a lengthy investigation conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force. All the individuals are suspected to have obtained the stolen identities from U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.

Three of the alleged are listed as John Doe’s as their true identities still remain at large. According to authorities, one of the suspects, named Jose Lopez Rosado, is a convicted murderer in Puerto Rico who was sentenced to prison. He escaped jail over twenty years ago and entered the U.S. where he has been residing using a stolen identity.

Despite increasing legislation and efforts to halt the criminal activity, identity theft across the country is still on the rise. Federal prosecutors act aggressively in pursuing cases, often seeking the maximum penalties. The severity of the crime is usually determined by the amount of losses a victim incurs as well as how many victims were affected by the scam. According to Keller Law Offices, depending on the scope of the crime, identity theft charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, sometimes with extreme punishments if the alleged suspect is not represented competently.