A Union County man was arrested today on charges of falsely impersonating a federal officer in order to defraud aliens seeking immigration assistance according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

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U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced that Ruben Alvarado, 27, of Elizabeth, N.J., was charged by Complaint with one count of impersonating a federal officer and one count of identification document fraud. He is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.

According to the complaint,  from September 2009 through May 2011, Alvarado pretended to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration. Alvarado targeted
victims (via Facebook and in person) who desired to obtain federal employment, legal status (or more permanent legal status), or work or travel authorization in the United States.

Alvarado would provide his victims false approvals of their applications, often on forms
inappropriate to the relief requested, that bore his signature as a purported officer of the United
States. Alvarado would threaten victims who complained that the materials were not genuine by
saying, in sum and substance, that his position at ICE vested him with the power to have them
and their children deported.

Alvarado took no action to further his victims’ legal or employment status, but demanded and obtained payments from his victims totaling more than $17,000.

The count of impersonating a federal officer is punishable by a maximum penalty of three
years in prison. The count of identification document fraud is punishable by a maximum penalty
of 15 years in prison. Both also carry a statutory maximum fine of $250,000.