Mexican man admits stealing American citizen's identity to obtain government benefits

(KGTV) - A Mexican man admitted to stealing the identity of an American citizen and using it to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits for nearly 40 years.

Federal officials said 66-year-old Andres Avelino Anduaga stole the identity of an American citizen in 1980 and proceeded to use the citizen's birth certificate to obtain a Social Security number and other benefits.

Anduaga, living under the U.S. identity, went on to receive nearly $361,000 in government benefits -- including Medi-Cal, food stamps and Supplemental Security Income -- over 37 years, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Last week in a San Diego federal courtroom, Anduaga pleaded guilty to theft of public property and promised to pay back what he stole from the Social Security Administration, California Department of Health Care Services and San Diego County.

Federal officials said: "As a part of his plea, Anduaga admitted that he is not an American citizen, and that he had in fact been deported from the United States on at least two prior occasions under yet another name. Anduaga admitted that despite his deportations, he was able to travel freely between the United States and Mexico using the United States passport that he had applied for in the name of his victim, using the same birth certificate and fraudulently-obtained Social Security number he used to defraud the government for decades."

Anduaga faces up to 12 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 29, and he faces a fine of up to $971,817.

U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said, "The programs that this defendant stole from -- for decades -- provide benefits to America's most needy. This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney's Office to protecting the integrity of our welfare programs and punishing those who prey on the goodwill of our nation and its taxpayers."

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