All but four of the 29 illegal immigrants arrested last week in a raid targeting workers at the world’s largest hog-processing plant had stolen the identities of American citizens, US federal prosecutors said.
Two victims lost more than $10,000 because of the identity thefts, and one person nearly lost subsidised housing because of increased income reported on a social security number, the prosecutor said.
The 25 immigrants charged earlier this week with identity theft either worked at or were former employees at the sprawling Smithfield Foods hog slaughterhouse, the US attorney’s office said.
They were arrested with four others in last week’s raid on the plant and various homes.
All 29 are accused of immigration violations; those charged with identity theft face two-year prison sentences if convicted. Several made initial court appearances this week and all have public defenders, though friends said the immigrants are seeking outside counsel.
It is thought the group may have purchased or stolen the identities through several channels, including computer hacking, fraudulent e-mails and Dumpster diving – and didn’t acquire the information from a single location.
â€¢ US attorneys
â€¢ Smithfield Foods
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