BOSTON – A Roxbury man identified as John Doe was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Boston of using another person’s identity for over 40 years.
John Doe, whose true identity is unknown, was convicted of aggravated identity theft; using a passport obtained through false statements; stealing public funds; and misuse of a Social Security number. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Sept. 18, 2019.
At some point prior to 1975, Doe, who is suspected to be a Dominican national, obtained the birth certificate of a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico. Initially, Doe did not have the U.S. citizen’s Social Security number, so he created or obtained a counterfeit Social Security card bearing the U.S. citizen’s name with a non-matching Social Security number that was assigned to a different person from Puerto Rico. From 1975 to 1994, Doe used the counterfeit Social Security card to find employment, first in New York, and later in Boston.
In 1994, Doe received a letter from the IRS notifying him that the name on his Social Security card did not match the Social Security number he was using and that he needed to go to a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to resolve the discrepancy. Doe took the letter to an SSA office in Roxbury, where he deceived an SSA employee into believing that he was the person whose identity he had stolen and that he had forgotten his true Social Security number. Doe gave the employee the name, date of birth, place of birth, and parents’ names on the U.S. citizen’s birth certificate without disclosing that the birth certificate was not his own. The employee entered this biographical information into the SSA computer, which returned a match for the U.S. citizen’s true Social Security number. Through this deception, Doe was able to obtain a Social Security card bearing the U.S. citizen’s true name and true Social Security number.
Doe used this unlawfully obtained Social Security card for the next 18 years, until the U.S. citizen died in Puerto Rico in 2012. At that point SSA learned that someone in Massachusetts was using a deceased person’s Social Security number and began a fraud investigation.
Doe used the stolen identity to work in Boston, obtain and travel on a U.S. passport, apply for unemployment benefits, and obtain public housing benefits for himself and his family.
The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of using a passport obtained through false statements, and stealing public funds, each provide for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of misuse of a Social Security number provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; William B. Gannon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office; Michael Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Labor Racketeering and Fraud; and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Wichers and David Tobin of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case.