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Document and Benefit Fraud

HSI dismantles Fresno-area counterfeit document mill

FRESNO, Calif. — Two Fresno-area residents were arraigned Friday on federal charges stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that allegedly revealed they operated a fraudulent document mill.

Antonio Mora-Cruz, 45, and Soledad Vargas-Herrera, 59, both of Madera, were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shelia K. Oberto on a 12-count indictment charging them with conspiring to produce and sell false identification documents. Mora-Cruz was also charged with being a deported alien found in the United States. The two defendants have been in custody since their arrest Dec. 4.

According to the indictment, between November and December, Mora-Cruz and Vargas-Herrera produced false identification documents at a residence in Madera they used as a fraudulent document mill. During the course of the conspiracy, customers would place orders for false documents directly with Mora-Cruz and Vargas-Herrera. The defendants took photographs and biographical information from the customers and used the information to produce fraudulent Social Security cards and alien registration cards, also known as "green cards." Mora-Cruz and Vargas-Herrera then delivered the completed false documents to customers, charging approximately $120 for a set of counterfeit cards.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.