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Financial Crimes

Former NM receptionist sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for bank fraud, aggravated ID theft

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A Los Lunas, N.M., woman who worked for a local business was sentenced Thursday to 42 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release following her conviction on bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Los Lunas Police Department investigated this case.

Sandra Rivas, 36, also was ordered to pay $14,022.47 to the victims of her criminal conduct. She was indicted in May 2012, and charged with 11 counts of bank fraud, 28 counts of aggravated identity theft, 18 counts of wire fraud, and one count of access device fraud.

According to the indictment, between March 2011 and July 2011, Rivas engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct while employed as a receptionist by a Valencia County business. In her capacity as the receptionist, Rivas accepted payments to the business from clients in the form of cash, checks and credit cards.

Rivas was charged with abusing her business position by altering the payee information on checks payable to her employer, and depositing the altered checks into her personal bank account; using the names, addresses, telephone numbers and bank account numbers of her employer's clients to commit criminal offenses; and making fraudulent online purchases by using the credit card information belonging to her employer's clients.

In November 2012, Rivas pleaded guilty to three counts of the indictment, charging her with a bank fraud charge and two aggravated identity fraud charges under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office. In entering her guilty plea, Rivas admitted that, while employed as a receptionist, she altered 11 checks payable to her employer by adding her name as payee and depositing the checks in her bank account.

Rivas also admitted using the names and credit card numbers of her employer and her employer's clients at least 19 times to make fraudulent online purchases for her own benefit.

Rivas is required to surrender to a federal correctional institution to be designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons within 60 days to begin serving her prison sentence. As required by the plea agreement, the remaining counts in the indictment were dismissed after Rivas was sentenced.