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Illegal Immigrant Allegedly Posed as Dead Veteran to Steal Social Security

An illegal immigrant was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, for allegedly stealing the identity of a deceased U.S. military veteran in order to get the vet’s Social Security payments and other benefits. The scam had been going on for over four years, authorities say.

Court documents show that Rene Ortiz Quintana, 69, had been posing as a veteran who passed away back in 1994 to defraud the federal and state governments of nearly $30,000 in illicitly obtained benefits.

Investigators allege that Quintana stole the identity of Ruben J. Gallardo to obtain a number of benefits ranging from the state health care program to Social Security to benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

In particular, Quintana used the deceased veteran’s name to sign up for a VA Choice card, a benefit that allows veterans to find medical care outside the VA Hospital system.

Quintana, who authorities say has been living in the U.S. illegally for upwards to 50 years, was arrested on May 19 and has been charged with seven counts of identity theft, six counts of forgery, and several other charges.

News reports did not say how Quintana was discovered and apprehended, but it isn’t likely he was caught with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service. In recent testimony before the Senate finance Committee, IRS Chief John Koskinen admitted the tax agency doesn’t bother policing illegal immigrants for using fake or stolen Social Security numbers and won’t alert U.S. citizens if there is some suspicion that their ID numbers have been stolen by an illegal immigrant.

Koskinen insisted it doesn’t matter to the IRS if illegal aliens are using stolen numbers as long as the immigrants are “paying taxes.” Koskinen didn’t note that many of these people don’t really pay any taxes at all and are often in the lower tax brackets where large refunds are returned at the end of the year if returns are filed.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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