Bond denied for woman charged in fraud case

McALLEN — One of two defendants in a 50-count indictment was denied bond during a hearing Tuesday afternoon, court notes show.

Beatriz Adriana Rodriguez will remain in federal custody pending her trial on fraud charges related to a scheme that she and another man, Francisco Santiago Rodriguez Nuñez, allegedly perpetrated on multiple people seeking immigration documentation and other similarly sensitive documentation.

Rodriguez was denied bond in what was the second hearing related to her release in late September. A magistrate granted Rodriguez her a $30,000 bond, but she was not released after the government opposed home confinement, and the government agreed that she should be held without bond, according to court notes.

Rodriguez’s co-defendant, Rodriguez Nuñez, remains in custody as well and has a trial date of early November, according to court records.

The two are accused of defrauding multiple people utilizing Facebook.

According to the indictment filed against them, for nearly three years, the pair made “fraudulent” postings on the social media website claiming to be able to “obtain, generate, or provide individuals with immigration status, including citizenship, to remain in the United States or driver’s licenses,” in exchange for money, court records show.

The pair did this by claiming to work for various entities that would be able to provide the sensitive materials, including, the Social Security Administration, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

Victims would call a number posted on the website, where Rodriguez and Rodriguez Nuñez would pretend to be employed at one of the aforementioned entities and would “fraudulently represent to the caller that he/she could obtain immigration status and/or driver’s license for the caller in exchange for compensation,” the record shows.

“Co-conspirators often sent victims text messages or multimedia messages providing fraudulent government credentials in an attempt to support their status as an employee or agent of a governmental agency,” the indictment states.

The pair would then instruct the victims to send the money through money orders or through the mail — at least on one instance they asked for $10,000 from one victim, and as low as $500 from another victim.

But even after they would receive the money, the duo would contact victims again, stating there were issues with their application, and demanded more money to resolve the issue.

“A co-conspirator would also call the victim and claim that if they didn’t continue to pay by a certain date that the victim may be arrested and/or deported,” the filing states.

When victims failed to pay, one of the two defendants would call the victims pretending to leave an automated message on the behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, stating that if they did not make contact with Homeland Security by a certain date they would be arrested or deported.

After receiving money from their victims the defendants would make money wire transfers. Rodriguez faces 47 counts, including attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 14 counts of frauds and swindles, and 32 counts of fraud by wire, radio, or television, court records show.

Rodriguez Nuñez faces the same 47 counts as Rodriguez, and an additional two counts of false personation, and one count of re-entry of deported aliens, for a total of 50 charges, the record shows. The government, on top of seeking a conviction, is also requesting to seize nearly $100,000 in U.S. currency and a monetary judgment as part of the punishment for the duo.

The government claims the pair took more than 45 wire payments from victims between November 2015 and July 2018, for in excess of $100,000, the documents show. Both defendants remain in custody pending the beginning of their trial scheduled for early November.