Social Security Fraud and Amnesty

A recent drug bust in Lexington County, SC revealed a Social Security Number counterfeiting operation (excerpted and emphasis added):

It also is an example of how easy it is to use fake and counterfeit Social Security cards and numbers in the United States… said U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd, whose office is prosecuting the cases.

“If documents look authentic, employers take them and process them,” said Lloyd. He said new government technology being developed may make verification of Social Security numbers easier in the future.

S.C. DEA chief John Ozaluk said the investigation is ongoing…and illegal immigrants often use false names.

Indictments in the current case allege illegal immigrants used fake Social Security numbers and wage statements in a variety of ways. They got jobs at Rea Contracting and Amick Processing, a chicken packing plant in Saluda County near Batesburg-Leesville, one of the Midlands’ major employers. Amick’s has some 1,500 workers, many of whom are Hispanic.

The immigrants also used the numbers to sign up for power with S.C. Electric & Gas Co. (the power company uses the numbers to check credit), register with the S.C. Employment Security Commission, apply for leases and buy a Cadillac, according to charges in U.S. District Court.

A complaint in the case says illegal immigrants used counterfeit Social Security cards as well as “non-enumerated,” or as yet unassigned, Social Security numbers. The suspects also used numbers belonging to other people, a complaint said.

Earlier this year, Lloyd said, a lucky break led to the discovery of 17 other illegal immigrants, nearly all Mexicans, working at an Aiken-area tire manufacturing company. All were using fraudulent or stolen Social Security numbers or other fake identification.

The workers were discovered after an S.C. resident trying to file for benefits learned that she was ineligible because someone else was holding a job at an Aiken company using her Social Security number, Lloyd said. Thirteen illegal immigrant workers were deported. Four remain fugitives.

Some people are going to have some cleaning up to do if their SSNs were used for the electric bills, Employment Security Commission (unemployment?!), and the loans.  I assume the victims have been informed of the breach…but I wonder about those who will receive the unassigned numbers.  I would hope the SS Admin will clear those up prior to assignment so a newborn doesn’t get stuck with a Cadillac loan.

Ironically, if amnesty passes, as it stands, the identity theft stuff will also be waived – if they used your (or your baby’s) SSN to get work, you get to fix the problem.

Finally, I’ve added a link to another blog who’s focus is ID Theft:  The ID Space additionally, the WordPress Identity Theft tag is also worth a look.

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