NEWARK – Authorities arrested a 27-year-old Elizabeth man last week who allegedly pretended to be a federal official in order to defraud victims who sought immigration assistance, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ruben Alvarado was charged by complaint with one count of impersonating a federal officer and one count of identification document fraud.
According to the complaint:
From September 2009 through May 2011, Alvarado allegedly pretended to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration.
Alvarado allegedly targeted victims (via Facebook and in person) who desired to obtain federal employment, legal status (or more permanent legal status), or work or travel authorization in the United States Alvarado allegedly would provide his victims false approvals of their applications, often on forms inappropriate to the relief requested, that bore his signature as a purported officer of the United States. Alvarado allegedly would threaten victims who complained that the materials were not genuine by saying, in sum and substance, that his position at ICE vested him with the power to have them and their children deported.
Alvarado took no action to further his victims’ legal or employment status, but allegedly demanded and obtained payments from his victims totaling more than $17,000.
The count of impersonating a federal officer is punishable by a maximum penalty of three years in prison. The count of identification document fraud is punishable by a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Both also carry a statutory maximum fine of $250,000.
Fishman credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security -ICE, Office of Professional Responsibility, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Northeast Terence Opiola; HSI-OIG in Miami, Fla.; and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow, with the investigation leading to the arrest.
The charges against Alvarado are merely accusations; he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.