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Five charged as a result of document and benefit fraud investigation

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BOSTON – Five men have been charged in federal court in Boston as the result of a federal investigation targeting document and benefit fraud.

The following individuals have each been charged with aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number, and one has also been charged with making a false statement relating to a federal health care program:

1. Raymer Alfredo Soto Mareta, 28, a Dominican national residing in Lynn. Soto Moreta is charged with using the identification of another person to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license. Soto Mareta also used this stolen identity to obtain MassHealth benefits, Social Security benefits and to apply for unemployment benefits.

2. Reynold Pereyra Diaz, 38, a Dominican national residing in Taunton. Pereyra Diaz is charged with using the identification of another person to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license. Pereyra Diaz also used this stolen identity to obtain MassHealth benefits and to finance a vehicle costing more than $48,000.

3. Yohnny Peguero Villalona, 33, a Dominican national residing in Lynn. Peguero Villalona is charged with using the identification of another person to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license. Peguero Villalona, also used this stolen identity to obtain MassHealth benefits

4. Roberto Melo Guerrero, 39, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence. Melo Guerrero is charged with using the identification of another person to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license and to obtain MassHealth benefits.

5. Hector Antonio Cruz Ciprian, 31, a Dominican national residing in Lowell. Cruz Ciprian is charged with using the identification of another person to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license.

Soto Mareta, Pereyra Diaz, and Peguero Villalona were arrested Monday on criminal complaints and appeared in federal court in Boston. Melo Guerrero and Cruz Ciprian are currently in state custody on unrelated charges, and will be transported to federal court at a later date.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a specialized investigative group comprising personnel from various state, local, and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity and benefit fraud schemes. The DBFTF is currently investigating suspected aliens who are believed to have obtained stolen identities of U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico. The DBFTF has investigated individuals who have used stolen identities to obtain public benefits that they otherwise would not be eligible to receive, including Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles identity documents, Social Security numbers, MassHealth benefits, public housing benefits and/or unemployment benefits.

In July 2018, a DGFTF-led investigation resulted in the arrests of 25 individuals on charges of identity theft and Social Security fraud. Separate DBFTF-led investigations resulted in multiple arrests in December 2018, April 2019, June 2019 and September 2019.

The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of false representation of a Social Security number and making a false statement relating to a federal health care program each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Jason Molina, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations; U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; and the Lynn, Lawrence and Taunton Police Departments.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bill Abely, Adam Deitch and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Burzycki of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the cases.

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