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Tijuana’s Andres Avelino Anduaga pleaded guilty yesterday (March 1) to stealing the identity of an American citizen and collecting his Social Security benefits for 37 years. He admitted to illegally entering the country and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, state, and local government benefits.

He swiped the identity in 1980 and used the victim’s birth certificate to apply for Social Security benefits and later disability payments. He received around $362,000 in Supplemental Security Income and health benefits during the period, along with CalFresh Supplemental Nutrition Assistance from San Diego County.

In 2015, he lied to federal agents, claiming he was a U.S. resident. He admitted that he freely traveled between the United States and Mexico using a passport he had stolen from the victim.

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Comments

JustWondering March 2, 2018 @ 9:53 a.m.

So I’m just wondering, didn’t the real American victim ever check his social security account statement? Old enough to have a passport but not that it was missing? 37 years seems like an odd period of time for this to have gone on. How did the Feds realize this was happening?

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Don Bauder March 2, 2018 @ 10:04 a.m.

JustWondering: The American victim could have died. The Social Security Administration is so huge that crooks can squeeze through cracks in the system. I don't know how the Feds finally found out. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat March 2, 2018 @ 12:37 p.m.

I think an appropriate sentence would be 37 years in prison.

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Don Bauder March 2, 2018 @ 2:05 p.m.

dwbat: Tell it to the judge. His sentencing will be May 29 before federal Judge John A. Houston. He faces up to 12 years in prison and a fine of close to $1 million. (The chance he would pay a fine of that magnitude is zero.) Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 7:14 a.m.

dwbat: Agreed, but judges have to stick to sentencing guidelines. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering March 3, 2018 @ 11:17 a.m.

There is an extensive story about Anduaga and his scam on the front page of Saturday’s Union~Tribune. Many of the sordid details are there, but authorities remain skeptical of the suspect’s real identity. The bottom line, they blame the “analog records” of the seventies and the ease of creating false identities.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/sd-me-identity-theft-20180302-story.html

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 10:21 p.m.

JustWondering: I saw that the U-T had put it on page one a day or two after I had run a brief on it. I did not read it. Maybe I should. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering March 4, 2018 @ 8:03 a.m.

Story has drawn worldwide attention as the U~T article is now linked to on the DRUDGE REPORT.

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Don Bauder March 5, 2018 @ 10:02 a.m.

JustWondering: The Drudge Report. Some call it the Sludge Report. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering March 5, 2018 @ 5:12 p.m.

Maybe so, but with nearly a billion page views monthly, that’s a lot of eyeballs potentially seeing this story.

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Ken Harrison March 5, 2018 @ 8:03 p.m.

I always love it when I see one of my stories in the UT two days after Reader publishes.

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Ponzi March 2, 2018 @ 11 a.m.

There are tens of thousands of "Anduaga's" doing the same thing. And they are not all necessarily Mexican or illegal immigrants. The refugees also learn how to work the system and collect public benefits under multiple aliases.

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Don Bauder March 2, 2018 @ 2:07 p.m.

Ponzi: Now that is interesting. I wonder if a crook could use hacking to get registered and get in line for steady checks. Please send separately information on how to find out about these thieves. Best, Don Bauder

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Wabbitsd March 2, 2018 @ 5:23 p.m.

I'd like to think that there were really up to date systems to find these kinds of abuses. But let's ask a simple question. Do you even think that the IRS, the Social Security Administration and say, immigration share the same databases? So let's say someone is supposed to be living in this country and collecting SS, but is actually living in another country, say Iran...would even send off an alarm?

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Ponzi March 2, 2018 @ 6 p.m.

Direct deposit of SSA benefits to an internet bank like Ally Bank, debit card and you can withdraw money from anywhere in the world. It's what legitimate American ex-pats do that live the rest of their lives in other countries.

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:04 p.m.

Ponzi: I don't have a problem with that as long as the SS is legitimate. Many Americans retire overseas. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi March 3, 2018 @ 6:14 p.m.

There's also an irony to people using other peoples social security numbers. If they are not a legal resident, but work with a "borrowed" SSN, the benefits accrue to the "victim" and the worker may never get any benefit from their SS contributions.

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 8:14 p.m.

Ponzi: That is outrageous. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:02 p.m.

Wabbitsd: I doubt that the various agencies share databases, but I honestly don't know. Good question. Best, Don Bauder

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Psycholizard March 3, 2018 @ 1:01 p.m.

I suspect the Government will spend more money convicting and incarcerating this perp than he swindled, in this scheme at least. Seems like the Feds cast their nets into the oceans of government fraud and captured a minnow. The identity theft seems less dangerous than the identity politics some would make of it. When we compare this to Wall Street Fraud, where no one goes to jail no matter how much is stolen, it's hard to argue for tough sentencing, but some will.

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:06 p.m.

Psycholizard: Yes, this fraud is pennies compared to what Wall Street and the major banks steal every day. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:08 p.m.

Thomas Weller: The scumbag in this case could get up to 12 years. He is likely to get much less than that. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:09 p.m.

Cynthia Beaudette: Omigod. 6.5 million people over 112 years of age? Where did you get tht number? Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat March 3, 2018 @ 4:34 p.m.

She probably got it from FOX News.

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 8:15 p.m.

dwbat; Yes, that is the kind of story that Fox or the National Enquirer would carry. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 3, 2018 @ 2:10 p.m.

Mike Murphy: We don't know about the victim. I don't know what would happen when he goes to collect. Maybe he is dead. Best, Don Bauder

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JustWondering March 4, 2018 @ 8:27 a.m.

Maybe it’s time for the Government to require an annual face-to-face renewal process for these benefit programs. If you want benefits come in for an annual “check-up”. I don’t see an issue with compliance. All you’d need is benefits linked. If you failed to show for your appointment the checks would stop.

Oh I know some will scream government intrusion, others will say it too much of burden, but fraud and abuse is only getting worse as more and more “baby boomers” reach their benefit years.

1

Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 9:59 a.m.

JustWondering: As a recipient of Medicare, I go in for a regular checkup with my doctor asking questions on behalf of the government. What you suggest would be expensive. The question is whether the number of cheaters detected is worth the cost. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi March 4, 2018 @ 1:34 p.m.

Before all of the EDD offices were closed and benefit claims went to the Internet, claimants had to go to the EDD office. At one time the EDD offices had a "job bank" and helped the unemployed find jobs and also offered free training and seminars for interviewing and job hunting. Now it's all onlines and there are no face-to-face contacts.

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 1:59 p.m.

Ponzi: And how many of the jobless have access to the Internet? Best, Don Bauder

1

shirleyberan March 4, 2018 @ 9:25 a.m.

I recently had to go to the downtown office to show my picture ID because I kept getting locked out online by "security questions" from 20 year old incorrect data. On the phone, said I didn't give correct checking acct# but found out later they wanted bank member ID#. Believe there have been previous reports that deceased children SS# a target.

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dwbat March 4, 2018 @ 10:05 a.m.

Hmmm. I have a "bank" member number, but SS only has my checking account number to make deposits. Why would they need both?

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 2:01 p.m.

shirleyberan: That is a bit of a puzzle. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 10 a.m.

shirleyberan: Yes, the identity of deceased children is often stolen and altered (for example, date of birth). Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan March 4, 2018 @ 11:26 a.m.

dwbat - right, that's what I thought, my deposit has been where I expect it for years.

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 2:02 p.m.

shirleyberan: Comforting, that. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan March 4, 2018 @ 11:31 a.m.

To be clear, deceased husband's SS. I can't argue with phone SS if they don't ask me the right questions.

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Don Bauder March 4, 2018 @ 1:57 p.m.

Suiki Takahashi Paul: Yes, it is a mistake for an honest person to believe that other people are honest. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan March 5, 2018 @ 10:19 a.m.

It's still a mystery to me. The bank is who told me the member number was the clue missing for SS. The bank's error is why I had to change checking numbers. (?)

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dwbat March 5, 2018 @ 6:54 p.m.

I'd be concerned over switching banks or my address, as I'd worry about SS getting it updated properly. I think they are still using old Radio Shack computers! ;-)

1

Don Bauder March 6, 2018 @ 7:47 a.m.

dwbat: Like many government agencies, SS isn't given the tools to do its job. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 5, 2018 @ 11:54 a.m.

shirleyberan: I am mystified too. Don Ba8der

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Don Bauder March 18, 2018 @ 10:14 a.m.

Thomas Weller: I agree that there should be investigations of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other transfer payments. But the government is spending so much on the military that it may feel it doesn't have the money to do the investigations. The current administration and Congress want to make cuts in transfer payments without doing homework on whether they are necessary. Best, Don Bauder

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