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In American Samoa, woman admits to wire fraud, identity theft and embezzlement

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PAGO PAGO (Talanei News/Pacnews) — An American Samoan woman, Iliganoa Theresa Lauofo has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee.

The 39-year-old admitted to collecting more than $267,000 by fraudulent means between 2011 and 2018

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Lauofo first applied for welfare benefits in 2011, claiming her husband did not live with the family and she needed assistance with food and income.

She continued applying for benefits until December 2018 and submitted falsified documents in an attempt to show her husband lived elsewhere.

She also is accused of stealing and using the identities of minor children in American Samoa, claiming the kids lived with her so she could receive additional benefits.

To convince the government, Lauofo falsified letters from doctors and landlords.

In 2015, she used the identities of two family members and an acquaintance to increase the amount of assistance she was receiving.

Lauofo received more than $220,000 to which she was not entitled, according to the indictment.

She then used the stolen identities to open bank and credit accounts, one of which was in the name of her ex-husband three years after he died.

In that scheme, Lauofo is accused of netting $10,000 by depositing worthless checks into the bank and immediately withdrawing cash before the bank caught on.

During her work as a letter carrier, Lauofo stole and deposited two checks.

Lauofo is to be sentenced on April 17 before U.S District Judge Richard A. Jones in the Seattle Federal District Court

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