Brazilian National Pleads Guilty to Role in Nationwide Rideshare and Delivery Account Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – A Brazilian national pleaded guilty on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with rideshare and delivery service companies.
Flavio Candido da Silva, 36, of Malden, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for April 22, 2022.
In May 2021, da Silva was charged along with 18 co-defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using stolen identities and falsified documents to create fraudulent driver accounts for rent or sale to individuals who might not otherwise qualify to drive for the rideshare or delivery services.
According to the charging documents, the defendants allegedly used victims’ identifying information to apply for driver accounts with the rideshare and delivery companies – enabling the defendants to pass those companies’ required background checks and create driver accounts in victims’ names. At times, it is alleged that the defendants edited victims’ driver’s license images to display photos of the drivers renting or buying the fraudulent accounts in order to circumvent facial recognition technology that the rideshare and delivery companies used as a security measure. The defendants allegedly obtained victims’ names, dates of birth, driver’s license information and or Social Security numbers from co-conspirators and other sources, including sites on the Dark Net. The defendants and co-conspirators also obtained driver’s license images directly from victims, by photographing victims’ licenses while completing an alcohol delivery through one of the services or while exchanging information with victims following vehicle accidents, some of which defendants or co-conspirators intentionally caused in order to obtain victims’ license information. As a result of the scheme, Internal Revenue Service Forms 1099 were generated in victims’ names for income that conspirators earned from the rideshare and delivery companies.
It is also alleged that the defendants used fraudulent driver accounts to exploit referral bonus programs offered by the rideshare and delivery companies and used “bots” and GPS “spoofing” technology to increase the income earned from the companies.
In connection with the scheme, da Silva admitted that he rented and sold driver accounts opened in the names of individual victims. Between June 2019 and December 2020, da Silva received approximately $200,000 in payments from individual renters and purchasers of fraudulent driver accounts. Da Silva also referred drivers to other co-conspirators and coordinated with co-conspirators about preventing accounts from being flagged for fraud by the rideshare and delivery companies.
Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the conspiracy and three remain at large. If you believe that you may be a victim of the allegations in this case, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/victim-and-witness-assistance-program/us-v-wemerson-dutra-aguiar-and-us-v-priscila-barbosa-et-al.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a sentence of at least two years in prison to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police; the Concord, Lexington, Plymouth, Wilmington, Marlborough and Village of Rye Brook (N.Y.) Police Departments; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the National Crime Insurance Bureau. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen A. Kearney and David M. Holcomb of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.