News and Press Releases

VANCOUVER IDENTITY THIEF SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 21, 2005

MICHAEL LEE ANDREWS, 24, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced today in Federal Court in Tacoma for three counts of Fraudulent Use of a Social Security Number. U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess ordered ANDREWS to serve 18 months in prison and pay restitution in the amount of $243,224.42.

Court papers indicate that ANDREWS, his sister, Melanie Andrews, and his mother, Mildreada Ruiz-Rapa were all charged for their respective roles in an identity theft scheme centered in Vancouver and Portland, Oregon. The scheme involved the defendants creating numerous false identities and borrowing funds from banks to purchase automobiles and homes. The loans quickly went into default. Several of the homes were run as adult foster care facilities. The defendants used the fraudulent identities to set up the homes, and then had an income stream from the rent paid by residents.

Local authorities arrested the defendants in 2003 and they were released on bond. They all jumped bond and remained fugitives until the spring of 2005. Federal authorities agreed to take the case as part of a new initiative to combat identity theft in Southwest Washington. The mother and sister remain in custody on other charges in Arizona.

The case was investigated by the Vancouver Police Department, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). The federal agents are based in Vancouver, Washington. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Vogel and Kurt Hermanns.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110.

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