An identity crisis usually refers to someone who is having a difficult time figuring out their place in society and life, in general. Today’s “Fraud of the Day,” taken from a Department of Justice press release, focuses on a man who actually had three identities – his real identity, plus two fake ones. (That could certainly cause a crisis.) He used them all to elude authorities and commit fraud by collecting more than $100,000 in federal housing funds.
The press release states that the scam began in 2003, when the Dominican national applied for a U.S. passport at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. He claimed to be an individual, who was born in Puerto Rico and therefore, a U.S. Citizen, but he had lost his travel documents and wanted to return to his home in Massachusetts. Apparently, his story convinced embassy officials to issue a passport under a name that was not his.
After obtaining the new passport, the man arrived in Miami and was held for additional questioning. He told authorities that he was not the person listed on the passport, but instead was another man – a Venezuelan citizen seeking political asylum. His application for political asylum was eventually rejected. But, he did not get deported because while the application was pending, he married a U.S. citizen. And, if that wasn’t enough, he claimed he was abused by his wife and petitioned the government to stay in the U.S. under a special program that protects victims of domestic violence. (This guy really knows how to work the system.)
The story gets even more interesting. Over a six-year period while residing in the U.S., he used the fictitious Venezuelan’s name to apply for and receive more than $120,000 in Section 8 funds, which provides rent and utility money for legitimate low income residents. He was convicted of passport fraud, false representations to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and theft of public money.
The Dominican man, who held no legal status in the U.S., is facing 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of passport fraud and theft of public money. He is also looking at up to five years in prison, as well as three years supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for making a false representation to the SSA.
It appears that this fraudster is going to face an identity crisis of his own while serving time in jail under his real name. He can’t hide behind any assumed names and has finally run out of options for escaping punishment. (My guess is that he’ll be getting a one-way ticket back to the Dominican Republic following his prison term.)"Identity Crisis",