Tijuana Man Sentenced to Federal Prison after 30-Year Identity Theft Uncovered

Sep 26, 2023

SAN DIEGO – Abel Alonso Valdez-Vazquez was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for misusing the identity of an American citizen for over 30 years in order to obtain identification documents and thousands of dollars in government benefits.

U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia ordered Valdez-Vazquez, 59, to pay $81,185.35 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. Valdez-Vazquez will likely be deported at the conclusion of his prison sentences.

Valdez-Vazquez was originally arrested on August 5, 2022, after driving a vehicle into the U.S. through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry that had three undocumented aliens concealed within it. Valdez-Vazquez was charged under the identity of G.P., a U.S. citizen, and pleaded guilty to his conduct as “G.P.” on January 19, 2023. 

Soon thereafter, investigators learned that a second man claiming to be G.P. had complained that his identity had been stolen and used for decades by an unknown person. Investigators were able to confirm the true G.P.’s identity after confirming it with family members and birth records. It was more difficult to determine the identity of his impersonator, but ultimately his true name – Abel Alonso Valdez-Vazquez – was revealed and his status as a Mexican citizen without legal status in the United States was confirmed.
It was determined that Valdez-Vazquez had been using G.P.’s identity since at least December 1992, when he was first arrested (and later convicted) under G.P.’s identity.

In his second plea agreement, entered on June 30, 2023, as Abel Alonso Valdez-Vazquez, he admitted that from 2007 through 2017, and 2019 through December 2021, he received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration under G.P.’s identity. Valdez-Vazquez admitted that as a Mexican citizen without legal status in the United States, he was never eligible to receive any government benefits, and that all SSI paid to him was therefore money stolen from the United States. Valdez-Vazquez also admitted fraudulently applying for and receiving a California Driver’s License under G.P.’s identity, and then using that license to apply for entry into the United States on August 5, 2022, when he was arrested at the border. 

“This defendant pulled off this fraudulent charade for more than 30 years, and he had many victims – from the man whose identity was stolen, to the courts, state and federal government, and the Social Security Administration,” said Acting United States Attorney Andrew R. Haden. “We hope this prosecution sends a message to those who commit fraud and identity theft: No matter how long it takes, you will be found out, and there will be consequences for your crimes.”

“The effects of stolen identities have long lasting effects that can take years and prove costly to resolve,” said Chad Plantz, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “Identity theft is not a victimless crime and HSI is committed to investigating those who think otherwise and helping victims.”

“Mr. Valdez-Vazquez knowingly committed identity theft, receiving Supplemental Security Income that he was not legally eligible for, which is a federal crime,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the SSA. “This sentence holds him accountable for his deceitful actions. I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”

These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill.

Read more from the SSA: Read More