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January 25, 2023El Paso, TX, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

HSI El Paso arrests local woman for wire fraud, impersonation of federal employee

EL PASO, Texas – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested a local woman Jan. 23 on criminal charges related to her alleged wire fraud and impersonation of a federal employee.

According to court documents, Ana Maria Hernandez, 53, portrayed herself to be a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) employee and defrauded more than 20 victims by providing them the false pretext that she would process their immigration applications for a substantial fee.

Hernandez’s victims provided her with the documentation required to file and adjust their immigration status. Investigators revealed that Hernandez had amassed more than $400,000 of unexplained wealth within the 18 months coinciding with her fraudulent activity.

"The impersonation of a federal official is a serious offense, and people, who perpetrate schemes that aim to deceive trusting individuals out of thousands of dollars, will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola, HSI El Paso. “This type of criminal behavior undermines the legitimate immigration process and taints the reputation of hard-working civil servants.”

An indictment returned by an El Paso grand jury charges Hernandez with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of impersonating an employee of the United States. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment on each wire fraud count and three years on the impersonation count.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Aguayo is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat child exploitation in our community on Twitter @HSIElPaso.

Updated: 10/04/2023