CUT, BLOW DRY … AND A FAKE ID
Salon owner and five others plead guilty in fraudulent ID racket
Ever walked out
of a beauty salon with a new hair cut or hair color and felt like a
new person? Well, customers of a beauty salon in downtown Milwaukee
could literally walk out of the shop with completely new identities.
Beauty Salon, you see, treated some customers to truly complete makeovers. Hair
cuts … facials … manicures … and fraudulent
birth certificates … Social Security cards … Green Cards … passports
... driver’s licenses. Some of the IDs used the names and Social
Security numbers of people living in Puerto Rico.
It was quite
a lucrative “business.” While salon owner Juana
Martinez charged several dollars for a hair cut, she’d pocket
about $1,000 for a fraudulent Social Security card and a birth certificate
in the same name. A valid U.S. passport alone would set you back the
Who was buying
the IDs? Mostly undocumented immigrants, who could use them
to get jobs, apply for credit cards, buy cars or houses, and run up
debt in other people’s names. But the IDs could’ve just
as easily fallen into the hands of terrorists or big-time criminals.
the salon’s crooked dealings back in July 2004. Our Milwaukee
office began a six-month joint investigation with the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service and the Milwaukee Police Department. We even went
undercover and bought several IDs ourselves—a Puerto Rican birth
certificate, a Social Security card, and two U.S. passports.
Then we shut
the operation down. In December, we executed simultaneous
search warrants at the salon and at Martinez’s home. We seized
17 sets of IDs that were about to hit the streets. Martinez recently
pled guilty to illegally possessing and transferring someone else’s
passport for felonious use. Five co-defendants pled guilty to similar
you know about identity theft? The FBI is committed to preventing
it … and working with our law enforcement partners to investigate
cases that do occur. Visit our Impersonation/Identity
Fraud page for tips on how to protect yourself. Also see the Department
of Justice’s Identity
Theft and Fraud web site.