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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 13, 2018

Mexican National Sentenced to Prison for Impersonating American Citizen and Stealing Government Benefits for Decades

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Perry (619) 546-7964

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – July 13, 2018

SAN DIEGO – Andres Avelino Anduaga was sentenced today to 37 months in federal prison for stealing over $350,000 in government benefits from federal, state and local agencies while impersonating an American citizen for over 30 years.  Anduaga was also ordered to repay $360,908.85 in restitution to the Social Security Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services and the County of San Diego.

In 1980, Anduaga used a birth certificate belonging to a United States citizen to obtain a California Driver’s License and a Social Security card.  Already a convicted felon, Anduaga used his new identity to commit a variety of crimes over the next 22 years.   

As he admitted in his plea agreement, Anduaga used that stolen identity to apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration in 1989.  Through 2016, he received almost $250,000 in Social Security benefits that he was not entitled to receive.  As a direct result, Anduaga also received Medi-Cal health benefits that he should not have been eligible to receive, and caused a loss of over $100,000 to the State of California.  Even after his Social Security was terminated in 2016, Anduaga signed up for CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition (SNAP) benefits and continued to receive those benefits right up until his arrest in November 2017. 

In addition to his Theft of Public Property, U.S. District Judge John A. Houston also sentenced Anduaga for being a Removed Alien Found in the United States.  Anduaga admitted that, despite twice being deported as “Jose Reyes” in 1994 and 2000, he was able to return and travel freely between the United States and Mexico using a United States passport that he obtained using the same stolen identity he used to defraud public assistance programs. 

 “The theft of Social Security benefits is a direct attack on the most vulnerable and needy members of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman.  “Every dollar stolen through this kind of fraud reduces the funds available to our retirees and other worthy beneficiaries.”

“The SSA-OIG is steadfast in its determination to combat Social Security fraud, and relies heavily on the cooperation of both the Department of Justice and the Social Security Administration to meet this goal.  Preserving the integrity of SSA’s programs, through criminal prosecution when necessary, is crucial to the future of SSA’s beneficiaries and America’s taxpayers.  I’m pleased to see charges brought in this case and grateful that the DOJ shares our determination to ensure the integrity of SSA’s programs,” said Robb Stickley, Special Agent in Charge of the Inspector General’s Office of Investigations in San Francisco.

“It is this kind of malicious theft of identity and people’s hard-earned benefits which highlights the need for vigilance and thoroughness in all encounters which Border Patrol Agents undertake to thwart this kind of illegal activity,” said Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott. “This successful collaboration between the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Department of Justice highlights the need for, and importance of, cooperation among law enforcement partners.”

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 17-cr-4461-JAH       

Andres Avelino Anduaga       Tijuana, Mexico

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Theft of Public Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641

Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment, $721,817.70 fine, restitution

Removed Alien Found in United States – Title 8, U.S.C. Section 1326(a)

Maximum penalty: 2 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine

AGENCIES

Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General

United States Border Patrol

United States Customs and Border Protection

California Department of Health Care Services

California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division

Bureau of Public Assistance Investigations, County of San Diego

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS18-0713-Anduaga
Updated July 13, 2018