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Document and Benefit Fraud
12/21/2016

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Massachusetts woman sentenced for identity theft, benefit fraud

BOSTON — A southern Massachusetts woman was sentenced in federal court Wednesday for using her sister’s identity, among others, to enter the United States and illegally collect $300,000 in government benefits.

This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Massachusetts State Auditor and the Massachusetts State Police.

Sandra McDonald, 51, a Jamaican national living in Fall River, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 27 months in prison. McDonald previously pleaded guilty in September 2016, to passport fraud, theft of public money, and misrepresenting a Social Security number. She has been held in custody since her arrest in May 2016. 

In 1990, McDonald obtained a U.S. resident alien card under her sister’s name, but with her own photograph and fingerprint on the card. Shortly after entering the United States under her sister’s identity, McDonald obtained a Social Security card, also in her sister’s name. In 1996, McDonald applied for Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits under her sister’s identity and has received more than $140,000 in benefits illegally. McDonald also used her sister’s identity to illegally receive nearly $30,000 in state health benefits, more than $125,000 in other state benefits, open bank accounts and obtain a driver’s license. 

McDonald also listed her sister’s name as the mother on the birth certificates of four of her own children.  

In addition to using her sister’s identity, McDonald used five other identities to obtain state identification cards, driver’s licenses, passports and open bank accounts. McDonald also used other identities – including her sister’s – when she was arrested on several occasions. 

In addition to her prison sentence McDonald must also serve three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $297,709 – to be divided amongst the Social Security Administration, Massachusetts State Supplemental Program, MassHealth and the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/04/2017