Did you ever wonder what it would be like to have a twin? When you watch movies about twin brothers and sisters, it seems like there are infinite possibilities of things to get away with, just by switching places with your twin. According to a press release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one fraudster in the Twin City didn’t have such luck with a double identity fraud scheme.
While it may seem like a great idea to switch places with a twin in times of need, the reality is that an alternate identity is not the answer to your prayers. A Minneapolis woman learned this lesson the hard way, as she pleaded guilty to one count of Social Security fraud and one count of making false statements. She was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $18,114. (Life’s lessons are always interesting – I’m thinking there’s something to be learned about double identities causing “double the trouble.”)ICE’sHomeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched an investigation, working with the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) OIG, as well as other federal, state and local authorities.
The investigations led to a plea agreement, where the fraudster admitted to applying for and receiving a Social Security card under a different name from her own in 1996, indicating on the application that she had never received a Social Security card before. (You can’t have twin social security cards!)Investigators discovered that she had received an original Social Security card for her real identity in November 1991. Reports show the woman had used both identities since 1996 to apply for and renew Minnesota identification cards and driver’s licenses, to seek and obtain employment and file federal and state tax returns. (Wouldn’t that make it easy for everyone to make a little money if they just had an imaginary identity to help them?)Reports also revealed that in 2004 the woman used the alternate identity to apply for and receive low income housing assistance, lying about her salary to ensure qualifications in the program. A special agent for HSI commented on the case saying, “Identity fraud poses a serious security vulnerability which often contributes to other crimes…Targeting these schemes is an enforcement priority for HSI.”
Ok, so maybe a twin isn’t the best idea. Of course, neither is creating an alternate identity and using that to scam the U.S. government out of federal money. Unfortunately for the fraudster, she will be the one sitting in jail – it’s a little hard to incarcerate someone who doesn’t exist.