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Document and Benefit Fraud

Alaska woman arraigned on identity theft and immigration fraud charges

ANCHORAGE — A Samoan national living in Anchorage was arraigned Monday on multiple charges including aggravated identity theft, passport fraud and making false claims to U.S. citizenship, following a multiagency probe, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Maualuga Leaana, 43, was charged in an April federal grand jury indictment, which alleges she applied for and obtained a U.S. passport in the name of her sister. She is also charged with falsely claiming U.S. citizenship on various applications for benefits, including Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends, unemployment compensation, subsidized housing, as well as obtaining identification from the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles.

As a result of her alleged fraud, court records state Leaana obtained more than $14,000 in Alaska dividends between 2003 and 2013, and that she also unlawfully obtained more than $17,000 in unemployment benefits.

Leaana is from Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, according to court documents, and citizens of Samoa are not U.S. citizens or nationals.

Leaana faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison for passport fraud, with an additional two years consecutive for identity theft. Each of the nine counts of false claims of citizenship carries a maximum term of five years of imprisonment. Each count of the indictment carries a maximum fine of $250,000. Restitution to the state of Alaska can be ordered by the court in addition to any fines or other penalties.

In addition to HSI, other agencies involved in the case include the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service; the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General; the Alaska Department of Revenue's Criminal Investigations Unit; and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Alaska.