Feds nab six for identity theft of Puerto Ricans
Five suspected illegal immigrants among those charged
Five suspected illegal immigrants and another suspect in the U.S. legally stole the identities of American citizens, the feds say, in order to get government benefits — part of what law enforcement officials say is a problem, especially in Lawrence.
“These were targeted investigations, aimed specifically at identifying people who have stolen the identities of others,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in Boston said yesterday in announcing the prosecutions.
“And the continued emphasis on the City of Lawrence is no coincidence: with the help of state and local partners, we will continue targeting drug, gun, and immigration-related crime in that city until the crime rate there drops substantially,” he said. “This has been, and will continue to be, a top priority of my office.”
The six people arrested by ICE each face one charge of misuse of a Social Security number and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The feds say they used the IDs stolen from Puerto Ricans to try — and sometimes succeed — to get documents and benefits they otherwise could not, such as Medicaid, unemployment and public-housing cash.
The feds arrested two people whose true identities remain unknown, as well as Dominican nationals Lenin Alfredo Amparo, 44, Julissa Ranee Acosta Estevez, 45, Andres Aridio Contrera Diaz, 30, and Raul Alexander Guerrero-Sanchez, 35.
Contrera Diaz has received approximately $6,117 in unemployment insurance in the name of the stolen identity — which is of a person still alive and living in Puerto Rico, the feds said. The others mainly used the identities of Puerto Ricans who have died, officials said.
Acosta Estevez is charged with receiving $6,500 in unemployment benefits.
Authorities say Alfredo Amparo is the only one of four known people who was in the country legally, but he has an extensive criminal history.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera’s office didn’t respond to a message seeking comment about Lelling’s focus on his city.