Phoenix Man Steals the Identity of Deceased Veteran to Scam the Government

A couple of months ago I blogged about the problems identity theft can cause someone who is on disability when I saw a truly sad case out East in Tennessee where a women was kicked off of disability because her identity was stolen.

Recently there was a case dealing with identity theft issues and benefits right here in Phoenix. According to ABC 15, an undocumented immigrant named Rene Ortiz Quintana has been using the identity of a deceased veteran to collect nearly $30,000 in benefits over the past four years.

Quintana has allegedly been posing as Ruben J. Gallardo, who passed away in 1994. “Under [Gallardo’s] name, police say, [Quintana] got an Arizona identification card, a state health card, a Phoenix health plan card and a VA choice card. The VA choice card was given to veterans in response to long delays in getting medical care from VA hospitals. It allows veterans to get medical care at Non-VA facilities. He also received Social security benefits under the name Ruben Gallardo.”

This is a really upsetting story for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, it is upsetting that someone disrespected the memory of Gallardo and the lives of living veterans who are trying to get care from the VA in this manner. I hope that Gallardo’s family is finding some solace in knowing that everyone who reads about this case is outraged on their behalf.

Second, it is frustrating that the government basically allowed this fraud to go on due to its poor record-keeping. I’ve also blogged recently about this problem, but from the perspective of what to do if the government declares you dead while you are still very much alive.

Finally, the fact that someone who was in need of medical care resorted to fraud to get that care is sad. I don’t want to downplay his crimes, since Quintana committed multiple crimes over many years (he’s reportedly been in the country illegally for about 50 years), but if he would have sought help, perhaps he wouldn’t have resorted to fraud.   

If you are having trouble getting benefits, or you or a loved one’s benefits are being impacted by identity theft, I encourage you to reach out.