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    Senior Member jp_48504's Avatar
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    Apr 2005

    Black market for Social Security numbers cashes in on immigr ... 6439c.html

    Black market for Social Security numbers cashes in on immigrants

    By GABRIEL RAMIREZ, Californian staff writer

    Posted: Monday July 4th, 2005, 9:30 PM
    Last Updated: Monday July 4th, 2005, 11:09 PM

    Despite the growing concern about identity theft, the market for the counterfeiting, lending and renting of Social Security numbers is still rampant.

    KW Associates, Realtors
    Some Kern County residents say that it is simple to get a counterfeit Social Security card. A simple trip to one of the undisclosed locations in Lamont or other cities and $60 is all it takes, residents said.

    But using a counterfeit number is not the only way to go about things. Some have resorted to borrowing or renting the Social Security numbers from legal residents.

    The renting or lending out of the identification number benefits both parties in the short run, but if the perpetrators are caught, it can lead to serious repercussions, said Isaul Verdin, an immigration attorney.

    Verdin said the use of someone else's Social Security number or a fraudulent one is an everyday thing.

    "I represent mostly people who are of illegal status. A lot of them are working, that is just the reality of things," he said.

    Verdin said he discourages the practice because it is fraud against the government, but also because it can have serious repercussions on someone's immigration case.

    "In some cases, it leads to someone being denied the ability to obtain residence," he said. "However, these people do it out of necessity, just to survive. They have families to feed, and I don't think there is evil intent, but technically, it is illegal."

    Social Security Administration officials said the issue is not black and white.

    "The penalty for using a fake number depends on the extent of the problem. For example, if someone was using a whole lot of numbers it would be turned over to the U.S. Attorney General's Office. If someone was just using one, then the damage might not be high enough," said Leslie S. Walker, Region 9 communications director with the Public Affairs Office of the Social Security Administration. "Depending on the case, people can receive any combination of a fine, probation and jail time. Those who are found to be illegal, their case is turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Office."

    "I don't think the renting of the number is as widespread as people would think," said Roberto de la Rosa, executive director of OLA RAZA immigrant rights group. "I think it is more common that someone would go and get a fake number made in swap meets."

    De la Rosa said OLA RAZA does not support this activity.

    "Some folks actually go back to their home country and they give their Social Security number to family members," he said. "People do what they have to do to survive and that opens the door for black market and a lot of fraud and exploitation, and we don't support this at all."

    De la Rosa believes that situations like these can be resolved by work permits and legalization programs.

    Some local residents say they have never heard of lending or renting out of Social Security numbers.

    "No, I have never heard of that, but I don't think it is good," said Fidelina Casteñeda.

    But others say they have heard of it and think it is the wrong thing to do.

    "It is wrong and can put you in problems," said Antonio Sanchez Hernandez. "I would never lend mine out."

    Gloria Garcia also believes the practice is wrong and would never lend hers out, but she said she does recognize the need of illegal immigrants.

    "On one hand, the ones using the numbers are only trying to work and survive," she said.

    Mario Lopez called those who lend out their numbers "dumb."

    "That is what I call them, dumb people," he said. "It is like lending your wife out to another man. It won't come back right."
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