Home News Stories 2005 March Shampoo, Cut, Blow Dry...And a Fake ID

Shampoo, Cut, Blow Dry...And a Fake ID

Shampoo, Cut, Blow Dry...And a Fake ID
Salon owner and five others plead guilty in fraudulent ID racket

03/23/05

Yolimar salon storefront

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.

The Yolimar 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 same amount.

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.

We uncovered 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 charges.

What should 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.