Fake IDs are popular with underage individuals (usually college students) who want to gain access to places and things that are off limits (such as bars and clubs). They are also popular with fraudsters who want to cater to deceptive individuals. (It’s a low risk venture for the fraudster, who can easily find a wealth of information on how to make fake IDs on the web.) Today’s offenders from Mexico produced a bunch of fake identification documents, including Social Security cards, then sold them to an undercover U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent. (Let’s just say their supposedly low-risk business venture into attempted Social Security fraud ended up putting them at a high-risk for a prison sentence.)
Today’s article explains that one of the fraudsters – a woman – met with an undercover DHS agent in Pharr, Texas where she negotiated a deal with the government employee to provide two identification documents including a Texas ID card and a Social Security card. The agent agreed to pay her $160 for the set. (As you know, a state ID and a Social Security card can provide access to a lot of things such as mortgages, car loans, student loans and government benefits. And, all for the price of $160. What a steal.) The next day, the undercover agent came back to pay an $80 down payment to the woman with a promise to pay the balance when he received the illegally produced documents. (During the meeting, the fraudster told the undercover agent she was interested in doing more business.)
Fast forward a month to when the undercover agent worked out a deal for two more sets of fraudulent identification documents. Both sets each had a Texas ID card and a fake Social Security card. (Each set had a $160 price tag.) Again, the agent gave her a 50 percent down payment and the fraudster offered to provide additional documents, including permanent resident cards and a fake Texas state driver’s license for another $160.
The third encounter between the fraudster and the undercover agent occurred in San Juan, Texas where he asked for two more sets of fake documents, including permanent resident cards and Social Security cards for $320. That exchange resulted in the woman’s co-conspirator’s arrest. (He’s the one who fabricated the fake documents. His take was $80 per transaction.)
The 30-year-old woman and 36-year-old man originally pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud with identification documents intended to be used to commit Social Security fraud. They eventually reversed their plea in exchange for a reduced offense level at sentencing. (Good idea.) The co-conspirators remain in custody until their sentencing in January 2019 when they will both be wondering whether their new criminal records were worth the minimal amount of money they made by scamming the government.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Pair who made fake state IDs, social security docs plead guilty,” published by The Monitor on June 1, 2018.
McALLEN — A pair of Mexican nationals each pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for their role in a scheme to provide fake identification documents in exchange for cash, court documents show.
Standing before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, Aidee Elizabeth Vazquez-Gomez and Jesus Manuel Renteria-Zavala each pleaded guilty to one count of fraud with identification documents in connection with a federal investigation that led to the arrest of the pair from Mexico.