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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fall River Woman Arrested for Identity Theft and Theft of Social Security Benefits

BOSTON – A Jamaican woman living in Fall River was arrested today for using her sister’s identity to enter the United States and collect over $100,000 in Social Security benefits.

Sandra McDonald, 51, was charged in a criminal complaint with aggravated identity theft, theft of public money, passport fraud, and falsely representing a Social Security number.  She is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston today at 2:30 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, McDonald was born in Jamaica.  In 1990, McDonald obtained a U.S. resident alien card under her sister’s name, but with her own photograph and fingerprint on the card.  Shortly after entering the United States under her sister’s identity, McDonald obtained a Social Security card, also in her sister’s name.  It is also alleged that in 1996, McDonald applied for Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits under her sister’s identity, and to date she has received more than $134,000 in benefits illegally. 

McDonald also obtained a Massachusetts driver’s license in her sister’s name, but with her own photo on it.  In 2008, McDonald used her sister’s identity to apply for a passport for her own son.  In 2012, McDonald obtained a Massachusetts state ID card in the name of a third woman.       

The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory term of two years in prison.  The charges of passport fraud and theft of public money each provide for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.  The charge of misrepresenting 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 $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; David W. Hall, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Boston Field Office; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations; Suzanne M. Bump, State Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated May 31, 2016