I saw this story bouncing around on social media this weekend but originally thought it was either a hoax or some sort of glaring typographical error. Turns out it was neither. Fox News is reporting that a single illegal alien in California has been committing identity theft for nearly forty years and he managed to run up well over a quarter million dollars in fraudulent benefits collected under an assumed alias. One thing is for sure, however. Andres Avelino Anduaga had clearly heard that America was the land of opportunity and decided he would avail himself of every possible program, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
A Mexican national has confessed to stealing the identity of an American citizen, and over the course of 37 years pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits.
Andres Avelino Anduaga, 66 – who hails from Tijuana, Mexico – admitted in San Diego federal court on Thursday that he assumed the fake identity of a Texas resident named Abraham Riojos in 1980 after obtaining a fraudulent birth certificate, and then successfully applied for a California driver’s license, Social Security number and passport.
From 1989 to 2016, according to the plea agreement, he received around $361,000 in benefits — which included Medi-Cal, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Having used his fake I.D. to obtain a number of real documents, Anduaga was reportedly able to travel back and forth between California and Mexico with ease, doing so on a weekly basis at times. (No clue what or who else he was bringing with him on all those trips.) In fact, authorities now believe that he was actually living in Mexico most of the time for the past few years and simply commuting to pick up all of his government benefits. Having gotten such good documentation to conduct this scheme, one might think that he’d have used this advantage to land a good job avoid trouble by keeping his nose clean. No such luck.
Anduaga also managed to run up a record of felonies while enjoying his freedom in America. The name he used to collect all these benefits was far from his only false identity. His records indicate that he’s used 21 different names with six different birthdays going all the way back to 1974. In that time he’s been deported twice (in 1994 and 2000) but he gave different names every time so Border Patrol didn’t make the connection. He had convictions (again under a variety of other names) for gun charges, forgery, cocaine use and/or distribution and multiple DUI arrests.
This guy was too clever by half and clearly enjoyed staying one step ahead of the law. Now he faces 12 years in prison and will have to pay back all the money. (Yeah.. good luck collecting on that, guys.)
So here’s the obvious question. We already know from years of ICE and Border Patrol reporting that identity theft is one of the most common crimes among illegal aliens. While Anduaga may be on the upper end of the bell curve for extreme abuse of the system, how many other supposedly “innocent undocumented immigrants” out there are doing the same thing? $360K is a drop in the bucket nationally, but a huge sum for one person to steal. How many of the other 12 million or so illegal aliens are running similar schemes over extended periods of time? If only ten percent of them have been doing what Anduaga did with only half of the total haul, you’re still talking about 150 to 200 billion dollars.
For Pete’s sake, you could build the entire wall with that twice.