Man with unknown identity convicted of stealing someone else's identity for more than 40 years

PHOTO: Social security cards are seen in this stock photo.PlaySTOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
WATCH News headlines today: June 14, 2019

A Massachusetts man whose real identity is not known was convicted Wednesday of using another person’s identity for more than 40 years, according to federal prosecutors in Massachusetts.

The suspect, referred to only as John Doe, is suspected to be a Dominican national, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney‘s Office. The person was convicted by a federal jury in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the release.

Doe was able to use the identity of the victim, identified by the U.S. Attorney's Office as a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico who died in 2012, to “work in Boston, obtain and travel on a U.S. passport, apply for unemployment benefits, and obtain public housing benefits for himself and his family,” according to the release.

Doe began using the identity after obtaining the citizen's birth certificate some time before 1975, the release said. Doe did not have the victim’s social security number at the time, but he “created or obtained a counterfeit Social Security card bearing the U.S. citizen’s name with a non-matching Social Security number that was assigned to a different person from Puerto Rico,” which he was able to use from 1975 through 1994, according to the release. The fake card allowed Doe to find work in New York and Boston in that time, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The release said Doe was informed by a letter from the IRS in 1994 that the name and Social Security number on his card did not match, and that he would need to resolve the issue at a Social Security Administration office.

When Doe went to an SSA office in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he “deceived an SSA employee into believing that he was the person whose identity he had stolen and that he had forgotten his true Social Security number,” according to the release. Doe gave biographical information from the citizen’s birth certificate to the employee, who then entered the information into a computer and found the citizen’s actual social security number. Doe was then able to obtain and use a social security card with the U.S. citizen’s real name and Social Security number.

Doe was able to use the new card until the victim died, after which the Social Security Administration "learned that someone in Massachusetts was using a deceased person’s Social Security number and began a fraud investigation,” according to the release.

John Doe was convicted of aggravated identity theft, using a passport obtained through false statements, stealing public funds, and misuse of a social security number, according to the release.

The charges of using a passport obtained through false statements and stealing public funds each carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison, and a charge of misuse of a Social Security number carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, according to the release.

Doe is set to be sentenced on Sept. 18.