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Honduran National Sentenced to Prison for His Involvement in National Conspiracy to Sell Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens



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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 23, 2019

Honduran National Sentenced to Prison for His Involvement in National Conspiracy to Sell Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens

A Honduran national was sentenced to 33 months in prison today for his role in a scheme to sell the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents to individuals illegally residing in the United States.  

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Acting Director Matthew T. Albence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announcement.

Jose Armando Pavon Salazar (Pavon), 37, a citizen of Honduras, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi of the District of Puerto Rico, who also ordered Pavon to serve three years of supervised release.  Pavon pleaded guilty on June 4, to one count of conspiracy to encourage an alien to reside in the United States for financial gain.  Pavon was also ordered removed from the United States upon completion of his prison sentence.  Pavon was arrested in El Salvador in January 2018 and extradited to the United States on Nov. 28, 2018.  Before his arrest and extradition, Pavon had been a fugitive since March 22, 2012, when a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 50-count superseding indictment charging Pavon and 52 other defendants with offenses involving a massive identity fraud scheme. 

According to the admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Pavon and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States for financial gain.  To accomplish the scheme, Pavon and his co-conspirators sold government-issued identity documents, including Government of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates and corresponding U.S. social security cards (identity documents).  Pavon and his co-conspirators knew these documents pertained to real people.  Pavon admitted that the documents were sold to illegal aliens so they could assume the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, and/or fraudulently apply for other identity documents in that person’s name in order to reside in the United States.

Pavon paid his supplier approximately $400 for the identify documents, consisting of a Puerto Rican birth certificate and a social security card.  The supplier would then use the U.S. mail to send the documents to Pavon.  To date, dozens of persons have been convicted in connection with the scheme. 

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service led the investigation with assistance from HSI San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The HSI Attaché Office in the El Salvador along with El Salvador’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit provided invaluable support, with assistance from ICE and U.S. Postal Inspection Service offices around the country.

Trial Attorney Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted this case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter.

Potential victims and the public may obtain information about the case at:www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/beltrerj.html.  Anyone who believes their identity may have been compromised in relation to this investigation or who may have information about particular crimes in this case should call the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or use its online tip form atwww.ice.gov/tipline.

Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft, or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful information and complaint forms on various government websites including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.  Additional resources regarding identity theft can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.htmlwww.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html andwww.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.







5/10/2019

Georgia business owner, illegal alien charged with exploiting illegal workers


U.S. Attorney Northern District of Georgia Bjay Pak announces federal felony charges pursuant to a years-long HSI Atlanta investigation into a Mexican national illegally employing and exploiting workers across Georgia and Tennessee.

ROME, Ga. – Unlawfully present Mexican national Juan Antonio Perez, 46, was indicted on federal felony charges May 7 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia pursuant to a years-long investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that culminated in the simultaneous execution of six federal search warrants in Georgia and Tennessee last week resulting in the federal criminal charges issued Wednesday.

According to court documents, Perez is charged with using his construction company, Aztec Framing, which operated in northwest Georgia and eastern Tennessee, to unlawfully profit by employing illegal aliens and paying them below-market wages. This allowed Perez to undercut legitimate business competitors who were unable to compete due to his illegal business practices. Perez is also charged with being an illegal alien in possession of 14 firearms – federal law prohibits illegal aliens from possessing firearms.

“Individuals, like Mr. Perez, who flagrantly violate federal law to give themselves an unfair business advantage are cheating both law-abiding employers and employees exploited by these unfair and illegal labor practices,” said Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “This case is an illustration of serious threats to public safety on numerous levels.  Homeland Security Investigations will continue to focus not only on workers who violate federal law but also their employers.”


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“Perez not only broke the law by allegedly hiring illegal aliens at below-market wages and paying no taxes, he had a large assortment of weapons including shotguns and pistols that he had acquired through various means other than buying them himself,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Illegal aliens, such as Perez, are not allowed to own firearms at all.  We will get to the bottom of how he acquired them.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Perez allegedly came to the United States illegally in 1992. He has lived in Bartow County, Georgia, and has operated Aztec Framing at least since 2009. Aztec Framing has offices in Cartersville and Rossville, Georgia, and Hixon, Tennessee.

Perez allegedly employed illegal aliens at below-market rates, provided no benefits or insurance, and did not pay payroll taxes or Social Security.  Perez allegedly used the proceeds of his illegal activity to build a 7,500-square-foot house, bought other houses where he allowed some of his employees to live, and purchased more than 50 sports cars and heavily customized trucks. Yet, as of April 2019, the Georgia Department of Labor had no record of Perez reporting any income.  Perez was also known to collect firearms and was found to have 14 in his home when agents searched it April 30.



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Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, and the Polk County Drug Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Traynor is prosecuting the case.


Source: https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/georgia-business-owner-illegal-alien-charged-exploiting-illegal-workers



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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Member of Sophisticated China-Based Hacking Group Indicted for Series of Computer Intrusions, Including 2015 Data Breach of Health Insurer Anthem Inc. Affecting Over 78 Million People

A federal grand jury returned an indictment unsealed today in Indianapolis, Indiana, charging a Chinese national as part of an extremely sophisticated hacking group operating in China and targeting large businesses in the United States, including a computer intrusion and data breach of Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. (Anthem).

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler for the Southern District of Indiana, Assistant Director Matt Gorham of the FBI’s Cyber Division and Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field office made the announcement.

The four-count indictment alleges that Fujie Wang (王 福 杰 in Chinese Hanzi), 32, and other members of the hacking group, including another individual charged as John Doe, conducted a campaign of intrusions into U.S.-based computer systems.  The indictment alleges that the defendants gained entry to the computer systems of Anthem and three other U.S. businesses, identified in the indictment as Victim Business 1, Victim Business 2 and Victim Business 3.  As part of this international computer hacking scheme, the indictment alleges that beginning in February 2014, the defendants used sophisticated techniques to hack into the computer networks of the victim businesses without authorization, according to the indictment.  They then installed malware and tools on the compromised computer systems to further compromise the computer networks of the victim businesses, after which they identified data of interest on the compromised computers, including personally identifiable information (PII) and confidential business information, the indictment alleges.


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“The allegations in the indictment unsealed today outline the activities of a brazen China-based computer hacking group that committed one of the worst data breaches in history,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “These defendants allegedly attacked U.S. businesses operating in four distinct industry sectors, and violated the privacy of over 78 million people by stealing their PII.  The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting PII, and will aggressively prosecute perpetrators of hacking schemes like this, wherever they occur.”

“The cyber attack of Anthem not only caused harm to Anthem, but also impacted tens of millions of Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Minkler.  “This wanton violation of privacy will not stand, and we are committed to bringing those responsible to justice.  I would also like to thank Anthem for its timely and substantial cooperation with our investigation.”

“This case is significant not only because it showcases the FBI’s cyber investigative capabilities, but also because it highlights the importance of FBI and private industry relationships,” said Assistant Director Matt Gorham.  “Because the victim companies promptly notified the FBI of malicious cyber activity, we were able to successfully investigate and identify the perpetrators of this large-scale, highly sophisticated scheme. The FBI is committed to investigating cyber-attacks that compromise American industry and the American people. As we did in this case, we will work side by side with victim companies to ensure justice is served.”



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"Anthem's cooperation and openness in working with the FBI on the investigation of this sophisticated cyber-attack was imperative in allowing for the identification of these individuals. This also speaks to the strong partnerships the FBI has with the private sector, as well as the tenacity and global reach of the Bureau," said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall.  "It should also be noted that the speed with which Anthem initially notified the FBI of the intrusion on their networks was also a key factor in being able to determine who was responsible for the breach and should serve as an example to other organizations that might find themselves in a similar situation."

The indictment further alleges that the defendants then collected files and other information from the compromised computers and then stole this data.  As part of the computer intrusion and data breach of Anthem, the defendants identified and ultimately stole data concerning approximately 78.8 million persons from Anthem’s computer network, including names, health identification numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, employment information and income data, according to the indictment. 

Wang and Doe are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in relation to computers and identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and two substantive counts of intentional damage to a protected computer.



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According to the indictment, the defendants used extremely sophisticated techniques to hack into the computer networks of the victim businesses.  These techniques included the sending of specially-tailored “spearfishing” emails with embedded hyperlinks to employees of the victim businesses.  After a user accessed the hyperlink, a file was downloaded which, when executed, deployed malware that would compromise the user’s computer system by, in pertinent part, installing a tool known as a backdoor that would provide remote access to that computer system through a server controlled by the defendants.

The defendants sometimes patiently waited months before taking further action, eventually engaging in reconnaissance by searching the network for data of interest, according to the indictment.  This data included PII and confidential business information.  The indictment alleges that the defendants accessed the computer network of Anthem without authorization for the purpose of conducting reconnaissance on Anthem’s enterprise data warehouse, a system that stores a large amount of PII, on multiple occasions in October and November 2014.

The indictment further alleges that once the data of interest had been identified and located, the defendants then collected the relevant files and other information from the compromised computers using software tools.  The defendants then allegedly stole the data of interest by placing it into encrypted archive files and then sending it through multiple computers to destinations in China.  The indictment alleges that on multiple occasions in January 2015, the defendants accessed the computer network of Anthem, accessed Anthem’s enterprise data warehouse, and transferred encrypted archive files containing PII from Anthem’s enterprise data warehouse from the United States to China.



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Finally, the defendants allegedly then deleted the encrypted archive files from the computer networks of the victim businesses, in an attempt to avoid detection.  In late January 2015, the defendants deleted certain archive files containing PII that they had previously transferred from Anthem’s enterprise data warehouse.

Defendant Wang is specifically alleged to have controlled two domain names connected to the criminal activity.  According to the indictment, one of these domain names was associated with a backdoor used in the intrusion victimizing Victim Business 1, and the other was associated by Wang with a server used to create an email account used to conduct spearfishing attacks against employees of Victim Business 3. 

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office.  Senior Counsel William A. Hall, Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Unit Steven D. DeBrota of the Southern District of Indiana are prosecuting the case.  Significant assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

Charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.













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