MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. -- Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies have arrested five people on suspicion of using stolen identities to obtain employment.
The two cases were part of the 81st criminal employment operation conducted by the sheriff's office.
The investigation began after citizens were denied food stamps by the Arizona Department of Economic Security for apparently earning too much money, according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They contacted the sheriff's office with concerns that their identities had been stolen.
The first case resulted in the arrest of four people who were allegedly using the same man's name and identification at several workplaces including The Cheesecake Factory, Mesa Country Club, Tree Work Elite Landscaping, Consolidated Personnel and Old Chicago.
Deputies arrested 29-year-old Jose Rodriguez-Zuniga, 35-year-old Mario Martinez Hernandez, 18-year-old Carlos Fernando Perez-Perez and 60-year-old Rosendo Milan-Zapata.
In the second case, deputies arrested 45-year-old Maria Del Rosarioa Alecio, who was allegedly working at Leach Painting under a stolen identity.
The sheriff's office believes another woman might have been using the same name and Social Security number as Alecio but abruptly quit her job after being alerted to the investigation by her employer.
Arpaio said one of the five people apprehended had previously been arrested on three counts of aggravated identity theft, a class three felony, and 19 counts of forgery, a class four felony.
Four people were held by Immigration Control and Enforcement. The immigration status of the fifth person is unknown, according to the sheriff's office.
"These investigations clearly demonstrate how serious ID theft can be for the victims, impacting their lives in the most basic ways," Arpaio said. "Not being able to get food for yourself or your family because someone has stolen your ID is a serious problem."
Arpaio noted that in 2010, 7.3 million of the W-2 forms filed by employers in the United States had a Social Security number that did not match the name, according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General Social Security Administration.