Abraham Riojos of Florida had no idea at least two other men were attempting to use his birth certificate and Social Security number to receive government benefits – or that one had successfully done so for 37 years. Luckily for the real Abraham Riojos, the multiple felonies Andres Avelino Anduaga committed were not done under the Riojos name.
Anduaga started using Riojos’ information in 1980 after procuring a fake birth certificate. With that he obtained a Social Security number, a California driver’s license, and a U.S. passport. He applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 1989 and collected payments totaling $244,000 between that time and August 1, 2016. He also applied for and received Medi-Cal and food stamps.
Anduaga principally lived in Tijuana the entire time, living an international life of crime under various aliases. Sometime in 2014 a San Diego-area Social Security Administration office alerted its inspectors that they believed some private mailbox businesses near the Mexican border were being used to facilitate Social Security residency fraud.
In a routine eligibility interview in 2015, Anduaga gave the street address of one such private mailbox facility as his residence, and investigators flagged his case for follow-up. Anduaga then told them essentially, “My bad; this is my mailing address but I rent a room from a friend at this other address.” At first Anduaga’s friend verified the story, but later came clean to investigators and told them Anduaga really lived in Mexico.
The investigators went to the criminal records, finding the initial man claiming to be Riojos had a rap sheet that included 21 different names and six dates of birth, dating back to 1974. They included a firearms violation, forgery, cocaine possession and multiple DUIs, according to prosecutors.
In addition, investigators found Anduaga had been deported at least twice. There could be a larger rap sheet and more deportations because authorities aren’t sure they’ve got a final list of all of the names Anduaga’s used. During his last deportation, in 2000, he used the name Jose Reyes. He was arrested in November while crossing back into the United States under a warrant listing that name, Jose Gonzalez-Cardoza, Abraham Riojos, and Abraham Riojas. But, his attorney used the name “Omar Anduaga” on a motion he filed in the criminal case in January.
Anduaga is in custody awaiting sentencing, where he faces up to 12 years behind bars. Considering that he’s 66 years old and allegedly in very poor health, federal prison could be his last known address.