Woman can't get credit after her identity is stolen, part 2

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PHOENIX -- 3 On Your Side continues its investigation into one woman's horrific experience after someone stole her identity.

What happened to Amber Cardenas can happen to absolutely anyone. And that's what makes this situation so scary.


We told you about Cardenas and what her life has been like after someone stole and then used her personal information.

Now, we take a closer look at the person who allegedly started this whole fiasco for her.

For years, Cardenas has been researching and trying to figure out exactly who was the mystery man responsible for destroying the past six years of her life.

"He has taken a lot away from me in many areas," Cardenas said.

The man uses his real name, Ruben Santiago, but six years ago he allegedly stole and began using Cardenas' Social Security number.

He used her number to obtain credit cards, turn on utilities and purchase multiple homes.

In fact, 3 On Your Side discovered Santiago bought a $315,000 home in Peoria and obtained a mortgage by reportedly using Cardenas' Social Security number.

"He has four houses in his name, he has $800,000 worth of credit in his name and my Social Security number," she said.

Cardenas says she can't even get credit because Santiago has used it all up.

"Everywhere I've gone to get a credit, he's there, he's been there, and I get denied," Cardenas said.

But after 3 On Your Side got involved, the wheels of justice started turning for Cardenas.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation into the so-called mystery man and discovered he's 33-year-old Ruben Santiago, who crossed over the border from Mexico illegally.

Cardenas says she got the news recently from a Maricopa County sheriff's detective who told her that not only did the sheriff's office find out who Santiago really was, but they also arrested him.

"When I got the phone call from the detective two weeks ago, I was very very happy and felt very relieved," Cardenas said.

According to a sheriff's report obtained by 3 On Your Side, Santiago confessed to using Cardenas' personal information but claimed he needed it because he wanted to work.

He reportedly told the detective that he purchased Cardenas' Social Security number off the streets for $80.

The report goes on to say he later used her Social Security number to open credit and to purchase homes, including this $275,000 Sun City home where detectives arrested him.

Cardena says the arrest is an enormous burden off her shoulders.

"Now I'm able to get my life back together," she said.

Cardenas credits the Maricopa County Sherriff's Office for bringing down the man who has wrecked her life for years.

She also credits 3 On Your Side for helping to get the ball rolling.

Santiago remains in jail. He's being held on 35 felony counts relating to identity theft.