OFFICES


OIG: Office of Inspector General
   Current Section

Investigative Reports

United States Department of Justice
Michael J. Sullivan
U.S. Attorney
District of Massachusetts
United States Attorney's Office
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 9200
Boston, MA 02210
Press Office: (617) 748-3139

April 6, 2005

PRESS RELEASE

SAUGUS COUPLE CONVICTED FOR IDENTITY THEFT AND BANK FRAUD

Boston, MA... A Saugus husband and wife were convicted April 4, 2005 in federal court for identity theft, bank fraud, credit card fraud and various other federal offenses.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Peter Zegarac, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New England; Gary Mathison, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General in New England; Robin M. Avers, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs and Enforcement in New England; Leo Sullivan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General in New England; James MacKay, Chief of the Saugus Police Department; Kathleen O'Toole, Commissioner of the Boston Police Department; and Leo A. Sacco, Chief of the Medford Police Department, announced that ITZA RUIZ, age 39, and HERIBERTO RUIZ, age 48, both residing at 226 Essex Street, Saugus, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel to a twenty-three-count Indictment, charging them with Identity Theft, Bank Fraud, Credit Card Fraud, and Making False Statements in Documents required by Federal Immigration Law. The twenty-three count indictment also charged ITZA RUIZ with Student Financial Aid Fraud, Making False Statements in Loan Applications, Making False Statements and Entries in an INS Employment Eligibility Verification Form, and Misrepresentation of a Social Security Account Number. The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of the couple's marital home.

At the plea hearing the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proven that over a three year period, ITZA RUIZ stole the name and personal identifiers of a woman and used the stolen identity to purchase a $318,250 mortgage for her Saugus home. ITZA RUIZ used the stolen identity to obtain student financial aid PELL grants and supplemental educational opportunity grants to attend college, and obtained employment at a time when she was not a legal permanent U.S. resident. ITZA RUIZ also obtained several credit cards and personal loans using the stolen identity. In addition, ITZA RUIZ obtained two residential telephone numbers through Verizon using the stolen identity, and opened a checking account at St. Jean's Credit Union.

HERIBERTO RUIZ aided and abetted ITZA RUIZ in committing these offenses, including personally applying for, and co-signing, the mortgage loan for their Saugus home.

Additionally, when ITZA RUIZ applied for U.S. citizenship, ITZA RUIZ and HERIBERTO RUIZ, her sponsor, provided false information upon which the Immigration and Naturalization Service relied in issuing ITZA RUIZ a green card.

The evidence would proven that the victim of the identity theft learned that her identity had been stolen when she attempted to obtain financing for a new car, and was subsequently denied that financing due to a negative TransUnion Credit Report rating that reported she had an outstanding mortgage of $317,382 for property located at 226 Essex Street in Saugus. The victim was able to track down ITZA RUIZ and HERIBERTO RUIZ through the credit report she had obtained, which listed telephone numbers and addresses for the debtors.

In early August of 2003, the victim called ITZA RUIZ and HERIBERTO RUIZ and confronted them about the theft of her identity and warned them that she was going to the police. The evidence would prove that the couple asked the victim for some time to fix the problem, and, thereafter, ITZA and HERIBERTO RUIZ proceeded to systematically undo ITZA RUIZ's false identity and to pay off the exorbitant number of credit cards and loans obtained under the victim's personal identifiers. As of today's date, there is still an outstanding balance of $17,715 fraudulently remaining under the victim's personal identifiers.

Judge Zobel scheduled sentencing for June 22, 2005. ITZA RUIZ and HERIBERTO RUIZ each face up to 30 years' imprisonment and a fine of $1 million if convicted of the Bank Fraud charges, 15 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each count of Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft, and 10 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each count of Making False Statements in Documents required by Federal Immigration Law. ITZA RUIZ also faces up to 5 years' imprisonment and a $20,000 fine on each count of Student Financial Aid Fraud, 30 years' imprisonment and a $1 million fine on each count of Making False Statements on a Loan Application, and 5 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each count of Making False Statements and Entries on an INS Employment Eligibility Verification Form and Misrepresentation of a Social Security Account Number. Following their release from prison, the defendants face up to 3 to 5 years of supervised release.

The defendants remain on pretrial release pending sentencing on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

The case was investigated by the Massachusetts Identity Theft/Financial Crimes Task Force led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Social Security Administration, and the Saugus, Boston and Medford Police Departments. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette E.M. Leoney in Sullivan's Major Crimes Unit.

Press Contact: Samantha Martin, (617) 748-3139


 
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Last Modified: 04/12/2005