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8.83 Fraud in Connection With Identification Documents—Aggravated Identity Theft

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(18 U.S.C. § 1028A)

The defendant is charged in [Count ______ of] the indictment with aggravated identity theft in violation of Section 1028A of Title 18 of the United States Code. In order for the defendant to be found guilty of that charge, the government must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, the defendant knowingly [transferred] [possessed] [used] without legal authority [a means of identification of another person] [a false identification document]; [and]

[Second, the defendant knew that the means of identification belonged to a real person; and]

[Second] [Third], the defendant did so during and in relation to [specify felony violation].

[The government need not establish that the [means of identification of another person] [false identification document] was stolen.]


See United States v. Doe, 842 F.3d 1117, 1119-20 (9th Cir. 2016) (setting out elements for section 1028A). Both direct and circumstantial evidence can establish that a defendant knew that the means of identification belonged to a real person. Id. at 1120-22. If the case involves circumstantial evidence of knowledge, consider the following instruction from Doe at 1121:

Repeated and successful testing of the authenticity of a victim's identifying information by submitting it to a government agency, bank or other lender is circumstantial evidence that you may consider in deciding whether the defendant knew the identifying information belonged to a real person as opposed to a fictitious one. It is up to you to decide whether to consider any such evidence and how much weight to give it.

For offenses charged under Section 1028A(a)(1), use only "a means of identification of another person" under the first element and select the applicable felony from Section 1028A(c)(1)–(11) for insertion in the last element. For offenses charged under Section 1028A(a)(2) [terrorism offense], select the applicable felony from 18 U.S.C. § 2332b(g)(5) for insertion in the last element. Do not use the bracketed second element in cases charging a false identification document under Section 1028A(a)(2).

Section 1028(d) provides definitions for the terms: "false identification document" and "means of identification." The Ninth Circuit has held that a signature qualifies as a "means of identification." United States v. Blixt, 548 F.3d 882, 887 (9th Cir. 2008).

In Flores-Figueroa v. United States,556 U.S. 646 (2009), the Supreme Court held that Section 1028A requires that the government prove the defendant knew that the "means of identification" he or she unlawfully transferred, possessed or used belonged to a real person. The word "person" includes both living and deceased persons, and the government is not required to prove that the defendant knew the person was living when the defendant committed the crime of aggravated identity theft. United States v. Maciel-Alcala, 612 F.3d 1092, 1100-02 (9th Cir. 2010).

If the government offers evidence at trial of uncharged identity theft against victims not included in the indictment, or if the government’s proof at trial includes uncharged conduct that would satisfy an element of the offense charged in the indictment, it may be necessary for the court to modify this instruction to name the specific victims whose identities the indictment accuses the defendant of stealing or to instruct the jury that it must find the conduct charged in the indictment before it may convict. See United States v. Ward, 747 F.3d 1184, 1192 (9th Cir. 2014) (holding it was reversible error to permit jury to convict on counts of aggravated identity theft against two victims named in indictment based on evidence presented at trial of uncharged conduct against identity-theft victims not named in indictment). See Instruction 3.10 (Activities Not Charged).

The government need not prove that the identification document was stolen. United States v. Osuna-Alvarez, 788 F.3d 1183, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015).

In United States v. Hong, 938 F.3d 1040, 1051 (9th Cir. 2019), the Ninth Circuit gave a narrow construction to the word "use" in connection with the statutory proscription against knowingly using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person during and in relation to another felony. That case involved massage services provided to patients to treat their pain and a scheme in which that treatment was misrepresented as a Medicare-eligible physical therapy service. Because neither the owner of the massage clinic nor the physical therapists attempted to pass themselves off as the patients, the fraudulent scheme did not constitute aggravated identity theft in violation of section 1028A, even though it did run afoul of other statutes.


Approved 12/2019