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Document and Benefit Fraud

Fresno man sentenced for running fraudulent document operation

FRESNO, Calif. — A Fresno man was sentenced Monday to one year in prison for conspiring to sell false identification documents and for being a deported alien found in the United States, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Marco Antonio Quiahua-Panzo, 20, was also ordered to forfeit his interest in various property, including approximately $30,000 seized at his residence at the time of his arrest. The sentence was imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii.

Quiahua-Panzo's co-defendant Omar Hernandez-Gomez, 26, of Madera, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 7. The defendants have been in custody since their arrest in January. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Baker from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California.

According to court documents, between October 2012 and January 2013, Quiahua-Panzo and Hernandez-Gomez sold false identification documents to customers in Fresno and Madera counties. The defendants took orders from customers for fraudulent Social Security cards and alien registration cards, also known as "green cards," and produced the counterfeit documents using the photographs and biographical information provided by their customers.

"Trafficking in counterfeit documents poses a serious security vulnerability and contributes to a host of other types of crimes, including identity theft and financial fraud," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "Our goal in these investigations is to identify and ultimately dismantle the criminal organizations behind these highly lucrative schemes."

Quiahua-Panzo and Hernandez-Gomez delivered at least 10 sets of false documents to customers, charging between $100 and $180 for a set of fraudulent alien registration cards and Social Security cards.