They don’t know his name, but they know what he did.
A federal jury in Boston on Wednesday convicted a Roxbury man identified only as John Doe of using another person’s identity for more than four decades, according to US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.
Doe, whose true identity is unknown to authorities, was convicted in US District Court of aggravated identity theft, using a passport obtained through false statements, stealing public funds, and misuse of a Social Security number, Lelling’s office said in a statement.
At some point before 1975, Doe, suspected of being a Dominican national, obtained the birth certificate of a US citizen in Puerto Rico, the release said.
But he needed more.
“Initially, Doe did not have the U.S. citizen’s Social Security number, so 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,” the statement said. “From 1975 to 1994, Doe used the counterfeit Social Security card to find employment, first in New York, and later in Boston.”
Then Uncle Sam came calling.
“In 1994, Doe received a letter from the IRS notifying him that the name on his Social Security card did not match the Social Security number he was using and that he needed to go to a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to resolve the discrepancy,” the statement said. “Doe took the letter to an SSA office in Roxbury, where 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.”
Lelling’s office said Doe provided the employee with the name, birthday, and parents’ names on the US citizen’s birth certificate without disclosing that it didn’t belong to him. The ruse allowed Doe to keep using the US citizen’s true name and Social Security number, prosecutors said.
The feds got wise again to the scheme in 2012, when the US citizen died in Puerto Rico and they learned someone in Massachusetts was using his name, prosecutors say. A fraud probe was launched.
“Doe used the stolen identity 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,” the release said.
Now Doe faces time in federal prison when he’s sentenced on Sept. 18.
“The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000,” the release said. “The charges of using a passport obtained through false statements, and stealing public funds, each provide for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of misuse of a Social Security number provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.”
The feds noted that sentences are imposed by a judge and based on guidelines and other statutory factors.