SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) special agents arrested on May 6 Wilson Santiago Hernández, on charges of allegedly impersonating a former U.S. Customs Service and Department of Agriculture employee to fraudulently obtain moneys and identification documents from individuals while promising them federal government employment.
Santiago Hernández, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was charged by a federal grand jury yesterday for violations of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 912. He was arrested this morning for impersonating a federal employee acting under the authority of the United States with the intent to defraud by falsely demanding money and documents from his victims.
According to the indictment, Santiago Hernández pretended to be a recruiter of the former U.S. Customs Service and used this false identity to defraud over 50 individuals by requesting money and personal documents in exchange for federal employment.
The indictment alleges that Santiago Hernández obtained from his victims documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, driver's licenses, health and good conduct certificates, photographs, passports, and college transcripts.
The indictment further alleges that the defendant requested from each of his victims approximately $200 for the alleged application process to obtain federal employment, illegally making more than $10,000.
"ICE will continue to aggressively pursue and criminally charge individuals who have impersonated federal officers and would exploit U.S. citizens as well as immigrant communities for their own self interests," said Aida Teresa Silva, resident agent in charge of ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility in Puerto Rico. "People who earn substantial sums preying on the hopes of individuals to obtain employment during difficult economic times are just despicable and ICE will use its vast authorities to unmask, arrest and prosecute them."
"The defendant falsely represented himself to people whose efforts were focused on getting employment to provide for their families. This individual took advantage of their situation, defrauded and caused them further economic harm," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez.
Any person who believes he/she was a victim of Wilson Santiago Hernández or who has information that someone may be falsely representing to be a federal officer can report such information or suspicions to ICE at (787) 729-6969.
If convicted, Santiago Hernández faces a maximum term of three years imprisonment for each incident, a fine of $250,000 and an additional term of supervised release.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Y. Hernández Vega.