BOSTON — Three Lawrence residents were among those charged this week by federal authorities with misusing stolen identities to obtain documents and government benefits.
Angel Bautista Rossi, 43, a Dominican national illegally residing in Lawrence, was charged with aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.
A man and woman residing in Lawrence, whose true identities have not been confirmed, were charged as John Doe and Jane Doe respectively for aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number, according to the DOJ.
According to charging documents, these individuals used Social Security numbers and other identifiers to obtain, for example, Massachusetts driver’s licenses or identification cards or MassHealth benefits. Some of these stolen identities were also used to obtain Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
“Identity fraud takes a tremendous toll on its victims,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.
“Individuals whose identities have been misused can face difficulties obtaining health care benefits, Social Security benefits or unemployment benefits, and are often left dealing with collateral consequences such as tax liability, bad credit and outstanding arrest warrants in their names. We will continue to hold accountable those engaged in identity fraud,” said Lelling, in the statement.
“These arrests mark an important landmark in the fight to ensure that benefits owed to American citizens go to whom they belong and not to those illegally present in our country,” said Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston.
“This is an important enforcement metric reached in the fight against benefit theft crimes, which are especially egregious during today’s these times of serious economic and public health concerns. Today’s achievement serves as testimony to the tireless, dedicated teamwork of those partners who make up the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force. We applaud all of our great partners including the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, whose unprecedented commitment to prosecuting these crimes has never wavered,” Shea said.
The task force investigates individuals who are believed to have obtained stolen identities of United States citizens living in Puerto Rico and who have used those identities to obtain documents and public benefits that they would not otherwise be eligible to receive.
Since July 2018, 50 defendants have been charged in connection with document, identity and benefit fraud as a result of investigations by the task force, a specialized investigative group comprising personnel from various state, local and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity and benefit fraud schemes.