During a sentencing hearing, Jennifer Andrushko, the mother of a five year oldidentity theft victim told the court of the difficulties she and her family had faced since learning of the theft of her son’s identity by an illegal alien, Lidia Aguirre, also known as Lidia Chavez.
Ms. Aguirre had originally been charged with five, third degree felonies – three identity fraud and two forgery. She eventually pled guilty to three, third degree felonies – two identity fraud and one forgery.
In her statement to the court, Ms. Andrusko detailed the damage done to her son and her family by Ms. Aguirre who had used her son’s Social Security number for more than a decade. She described the countless hours she devoted to personally investigating her son’s case, trying to get law enforcement to do its job, and her disgust with the Social Security Administration which showed a total disregard for destruction of her child’s future.
Ms. Andrushko explained that she had first learned of the identity theft on November 16, 2009, when she went to Utah’s Department of Workforce Services to apply for aid after her husband lost his job. During the eligibility interview, she was informed that wages were being reported on the SSN of her three year old son.
After filing a police report, Ms. Andrushko realized that the Harrisville Police Department was not going to pursue the case. The Social Security Administration denied assistance and claimed not to have any record of wages on her son’s Social Security number.
For several weeks after learning of the identity theft, Ms. Adrushko spent most of her waking hours trying to find help for her son but was unable to get any assistance from law enforcement, from federal agencies or even from her Congressman. She eventually contacted her state Senator, Scott Jenkins, and his efforts resulted in Assistant Attorney General, Richard Hamp, who is an expert in employment related identity theft prosecutions, taking the case and pursuing it with vigor.
During the next three years she carried out her own investigation and kept in constant contact with Mr. Hamp. During that time she heard nothing from her local police department even though she added information to the police report that she had originally filed.
She explained that Ms. Aguirre used her son’s Social Security number for employment purposes, to obtain credit and even to get medical care. Ms. Andrushko told the court how hard it has been to determine the damage done to her son’s future and how after three years of constant effort, she has only scratched the surface.
It has even been more difficult to try to clean up the damage because the information is under Ms. Aguirre’s name but with Ms. Andrusko’s son’s Social Security number. Ms. Andrusko is considered to be a third party since she is not the victim and is constantly told that the five year old victim is the only one who can request and get information about activity on his Social Security number.
The court heard that Ms. Andrushko was exceptionally concerned that her son’s Social Security number had been used by a 38 year old, Hispanic female with a different blood type, different allergies and different medical conditions since this could lead to the corruption of her son’s medical records with life threatening consequences.
Ms. Andrusko described how she had contacted the three major credit reporting agencies. All three initially told her that no files existed for her son. She kept up the pressure and in March she was finally advised by TransUnion that there were indeed records linked to her son’s Social Security number in spite of earlier denials. She then contacted medical offices and others who had provided services to Ms. Aguirre while using her son’s Social Security number. (All denied any responsibility for the harm caused to her son.)
Mainly through her own efforts, Ms. Andrushko discovered that:
- Her son’s Social Security number was used for employment purposes in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2009. (Her son was born in 2006 and even though the number had been used illegally for years, the Social Security Administration still assigned it to him. The fraudulent use of her son’s number resulted in three felony identity fraud charges and two felony forgery charges).
- Her son’s record showed credit charges totaling $10,397 with Ms. Aguirre co-signing with her husband. This included an auto loan in 2006 of approximately $9000 and another in 1999 for pots and pans. (No charges have been brought for these felonies).
- Medical care was obtained under her son’s number. This included collections totaling around $7000 and 11 accounts at various facilities of a local health care group plus care at an OB/GYN’s office and some pathology items. (No charges have been brought for these felonies).
- A pathology bill was paid for by Medicaid which raises the question of whether Ms, Aguirre illegally received government benefits by using a fraudulently obtained Social Security number. (No charges have been brought for these possible felonies).
- Ms. Aguirre had also used another fraudulently obtained Social Security number meaning that she has still committed more felonies and more importantly that there may be another identity theft victim. (No charges have been brought for these felonies).
Ms. Andrushko pointed out that Ms. Aguirre had seriously compromised if not destroyed her son’s future and that as his mother, she was doing everything possible to recover his good name and to avoid future problems.
She told the court that she fears that her son’s Social Security number will continue to be used if the perpetrator is released. She recommended that Ms. Aguirre be given the same sentence and held to the same accountability standard that she would be held to if the situation was reversed and if she had used the Social Security number of one of Ms. Aguirre’s American born children.
She also discussed her son’s understanding of what has happened to him and of his apprehension about being near Ms. Aguirre during her initial appearance since he knew that the police had been looking for her for a long time. The judge acknowledged seeing the victim, five year old Carter Andrushko, and his family in court every time action was taken in the case.
Ms. Andrushko said that she was genuinely sorry for what the Aguirre family is going through since Ms. Aguirre’s husband was recently arrested and jailed for a serious crime.
She emphasizes that she doesn’t wish Ms. Aguirre ill but that she does want her to understand that children, including her American born children, are prime targets for Social Security number only identity theft. In fact, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Ms. Aguirre’s children’s Social Security numbers are in the pool of numbers available on the street and that her children are the victims of illegal alien driven, job related identity theft.
Ms. Adrushko asked for a copy of the conviction or another document that would help her prove that legal action has been taken and that would help her recover her son’s good name and his future. She also asked for a list of everything Ms. Aguirre used her son’s stolen identity for no matter how trivial – dentist visits, cell phones, utilities, employment, even the purchase of a stick of gum, etc.
The judge inquired about getting a new Social Security number for the victim. Mr. Hamp explained that that would be just one more burden on the victim and that there was no guarantee that the new Social Security number would not be compromised.
Ms. Andrushko said that she had been told not to waste her time trying to get a new Social Security number issued since there had to be two years of constant abuse resulting in so much financial damage that the victim would never be able to recover. She reiterated the fact that her son had already been assigned a corrupted Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration and that she did not want to go through that again since the Social Security Administration continues to issue numbers that are being fraudulently used.
Due to the arrest of Ms. Aguirre’s husband, sentencing was deferred until September 24.