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July 10, 2019Hartford, CT, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

HSI Boston case leads to federal indictment on fraud, identity theft charges in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. - A case investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston resulted in a federal grand jury indictment of a Las Vegas, NV man on fraud and identity theft charges  in New Haven, Connecticut, it was announced July 9.  

The eight-count indictment was announced by Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Boston and by John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. The individual, Arash Vakhshouri, 40, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was charged by the grand jury with submitting false documents to a government agency and aggravated identity theft and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut.

“Identity theft and attempted theft of government benefits by fraud are crimes that are a threat to all Americans” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Boston. “These crimes are effectively the equivalent of someone stealing directly from the wallets of the American taxpayers and can often serve as a potential gateway to other, high-level serious offenses.”

HSI special agents in Hartford, Connecticut discovered that between January and May 2017, Vakhshouri sent a total of seven fraudulent letters to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Connecticut purporting to be from two individuals who had applied to USCIS to become legal residents of the U.S. in March 2016.  The letters, which included the victims’ names, passport numbers, application numbers and alien file numbers, fraudulently requested the withdrawal or cancellation of the victims’ applications for legal permanent resident status in the U.S. The indictment charged Vakhshouri with seven counts of submitting a false document, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on each count, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of two years.

The eight-count indictment was returned on May 8; Vakhshouri was arrested in Las Vegas on June 20.  He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector in New Haven, CT on July 9, entered a plea of not guilty, was released on a $50,000 bond. He will face prosecution by the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut in the near future.

This matter was investigated by ICE's HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, USCIS and the Manchester, NH Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.