A 49-year-old Des Moines, Washington woman was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison and five years of supervised release for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
As we previously reported, Jennifer Suazo, aka Jennifer Esperanza, was arrested in August 2022 after fleeing from law enforcement at an earlier encounter. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Tana Lin said:
“… identity theft is something that everyone lives in fear of …. Having one’s identity stolen steals that person’s sense of confidence, faith, and security too ….”
According to records filed in the case, Suazo purchased victims’ identifying information from various sources, including the dark web, which she then used to open accounts at financial institutions in the victims’ names and to take over victims’ existing bank accounts. To carry out this fraud, Suazo created identification documents in victims’ names but with her photograph on the ID. Suazo also changed the mailing addresses for the accounts created or taken over so that she would receive all communications about the accounts and thereby hide her fraud and theft from the victims. Suazo also deposited victims’ checks into her personal bank account. Between 2019 and 2022, Suazo defrauded individual victims and financial institutions of at least $107,472.
When law enforcement executed a court authorized search warrant at her home, they discovered notebooks with the personal information of some 316 victims.
Suazo pleaded guilty in January 2023.
Due to her history of drug addiction, Judge Lin recommended Suazo participate in the Bureau of Prisons’ intensive Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).
In sentencing materials, Special Assistant United States Attorney Jessica M. Ly noted the harm posed by identity theft, writing, “… the ramifications of her actions were wide-reaching: Suazo not only drained state and federal law enforcement resources to identify victims and trace the fraudulent transactions, but also caused victims ongoing anxiety about the security of their accounts and credit after their information was compromised.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from the Des Moines Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Jessica M. Ly.