Two Plead Guilty in Nationwide Rideshare and Delivery Account Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – Two Brazilian nationals pleaded guilty today in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with rideshare and delivery service companies.
Edvaldo Rocha Cabral, 42, of Lowell, Mass. and Julio Vieira Braga, 25, of Daly City, Calif., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencings for both defendants on June 15, 2022.
In May 2021, Cabral and Braga were charged along with 17 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 them to pass the 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 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 further 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, Cabral obtained driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers that he and his co-conspirators procured from the DarkNet and other sources. Cabral also admitted that he paid co-conspirators to alter driver’s license photos to display pictures of other individuals. He used these stolen identifiers to create numerous fraudulent accounts with the rideshare and delivery companies and supplied these identifiers to other co-conspirators who also created fraudulent accounts. Cabral advertised fraudulent accounts for sale or rent to Brazilian nationals living in the United States via Facebook as well as WhatsApp and Telegraph messaging apps. He managed these accounts and attempted to prevent them from being closed by the companies for fraud. Additionally, he also distributed a “bot” to use in connection with one of the companies’ apps, which enabled users to “cut the line” and claim higher value delivery orders. Between June 2019 and January 2021, Cabral received over $430,000 in rental payments from individuals driving under these accounts and payments from the companies generated with these accounts.
Braga paid co-conspirators and others to rent or purchase fraudulent accounts with the rideshare and delivery companies. He also obtained photographs of other individuals’ driver’s licenses while completing alcohol deliveries for one of the companies and used those photographs to attempt to create fraudulent accounts under the individuals’ names. Additionally, Braga permitted at least one co-conspirator to use his bank account to receive proceeds from renting or selling fraudulent driver accounts. Between June 2019 and December 2020, Braga received approximately $220,000 in payments from the companies generated with fraudulent accounts and rental payments for fraudulent accounts that were directed through his bank account.
Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the conspiracy and three remain at large. Cabral and Braga are the third and fourth defendants to plead guilty in the case, respectively. 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 statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins 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 Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.