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Woman admits to stealing identity of another woman

December 31, 2009 3:03:34 PM PST
A Manhattan medical assistant has admitted stealing a stranger's identity and using it to get married, credit cards and tax refunds."This black shadow was always there following me," said Sarah Benitez.

The black shadow that has followed Benitez for the last 17 years has a name -- Aracellis Cherico.

She just pled guilty to stealing Sarah's identity way back in 1992. Sarah first noticed when the Internal Revenue Service told her she had been working at a company she never heard of.

The company had all of her records on file.

"A copy of my birth certificate, a Social Security card and a passport, but the picture was very dark," Benitez explained.

She filed a police report, but nothing happened.

"According to the IRS, they couldn't do anything. According to police, she didn't exist," Benitez said.

For 12 years she argued with the IRS, saw thousands in credit card bills and parking tickets she didn't get. She thought it was over in 2004. That's when she went to get a marriage license.

"So when the clerk came over, he looks at me and says 'You've been here before.' I said 'What?' and almost fell over," she explained.

So did her fiance.

The wedding had to be put on hold because, without Benitez knowing it, Cherico had been married and divorced, all while using her name.

"For me to verify that was not me -- the biggest nightmare that nobody should go through," she said.

State investigators tracked down Cherico this year living in Manhattan and arrested her.

She pled guilty in court Wednesday in exchange for just 60 days in jail.

It's unclear how she got Benitez's information in the first place.


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