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Document and Benefit Fraud

Minnesota woman sentenced for using 2 identifies to receive government benefits

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities woman was sentenced in federal court Friday for using an alternative identity to fraudulently receive government benefits, including more than $18,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Oluremi George, 53, of Woodbury, aka Victoria Ayoola, pleaded guilty to one count of Social Security fraud and one count of making false statements. She was sentenced to two years of probation, and was ordered to pay $18,114 in restitution. She was indicted July 10.

This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"Identity fraud poses a serious security vulnerability, which often contributes to a host of other crimes – including the false identity and financial fraud in this case," said Michael Feinberg, special agent in charge for HSI St. Paul. "Targeting these schemes is an enforcement priority for HSI. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to detect, investigate and dismantle identity fraud."

In her plea agreement, George admitted that she applied for, and received, a Social Security card under the name Victoria Ayoola Nov. 19, 1996. On the application, George indicated that she had never before been issued a Social Security number. However, she in fact had already received a Social Security number under the name Oluremi George, issued Nov. 26, 1991.

Since 1996, George had used both Social Security numbers and identities to apply for and renew Minnesota identification cards and driver's licenses, to seek and obtain employment, and to file federal and state tax returns. George also used the false identity to receive a lower monthly housing rental rate by qualifying for a LIHTC rental unit at Pondview Townhomes in Woodbury. George's fraud resulted in her underpaying more than $18,000 in rent since 2004.

Pondview is a low-income housing development that provides housing assistance to its residents through the use of HUD loans and funds, as well as through LIHTCs. To be eligible to live in one of the units, a person must make less than the federal annual tax credit income limit. In 2011, that limit for Washington County, where Woodbury is located, was $35,280.

In an effort to qualify for the subsidized housing unit, George certified that her anticipated 2011 income was $30,930, even though she knew it would actually be $55,887.13.

HSI was assisted in this case by the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, HUD's Office of Inspector General, the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, and the Minnesota State Patrol, with assistance from the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office.