A man from Mexico was investigated for Social Security fraud after it was discovered he had been receiving disability benefits while pretending to live in the United States when he actually lived in Tijuana. The investigation revealed a 37-year-old man named Andres Avelino Anduaga was assuming the identity of a U.S. citizen and scammed the federal, state and local governments out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.
Anduaga admitted to assuming the identity of a U.S. citizen in 1980 in a plea agreement entered in San Diego federal court. The documents allowed him to move freely between Mexico and the U.S. and he received nearly $361,000 in government benefits. Thursday, he pleaded guilty to theft of public property and entering the country illegally.
In the agreement, Anduaga agreed he would pay back several government agencies what he stole and could face additional fines as well as 12 years in prison. The investigation started in 2014 when the Social Security office in Chula Vista alerted its Office of the Inspector general that private mailboxes near the U.S.-Mexico border may be linked to fraudulent activities.
To receive Social Security Benefits, you must be a U.S. citizen or a valid visa holder and you must reside in the United States. Anduaga went to a standard review to determine if he was still eligible for benefits in April 2015. The ID he was using belonged to a man named Riojos and gave an address on San Ysidro Boulevard which is a mailbox rental facility. Riojos said he was renting a room from a man on I Street in Chula Vista.
When California Department of Health Care Services called the address the man confirmed the living arrangement. When investigators went to the home a year later, the man admitted Riojos had never lived there, but actually lived in Mexico. The investigators found Anduaga had used Riojos' name along with a fake birth certificate to sign up for disability benefits in Oceanside.
It turns out Anduaga has an extensive rap sheet that included 21 different names, six dates of birth that go back as far as 1974. Anduaga has previous convictions for a firearms violation, forgery, cocaine possession and multiple DUIs. Immigration records found that he had been deported twice, once in 1994 and again in 2000.
Anduaga also applied for Supplemental Security Income for a total of $244,441 and qualified for Medi-Cal benefits and payments totaling $112,981 which should not have been the case since he was an illegal immigrant. He also received $3,486 in food stamp benefits. One thing investigators still don't know is how Anduaga got Riojos' identity.
Sentencing for Anduaga is set for May 29.
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