PROVIDENCE, RI – The leader of a multi-state conspiracy that executed multiple schemes to defraud banks, finance companies, car dealerships, and retailers of more than $1.3 million was sentenced today to more than seven years in federal prison.
According to court documents, soon after arriving in the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2016, Octavio Andres Difo-Castro, 30, of Brooklyn, NY, began purchasing blocks of stolen identifying information of unsuspecting victims from the dark web. The identities were used to create high-quality drivers’ licenses and other documents he provided to individuals who worked at his direction to execute schemes that defrauded financial institutions and retailers.
Difo-Castro’s schemes included using the stolen identities and fraudulent documents to open bank accounts that were used to deposit and withdraw fraudulently obtained funds; to pose as both the seller and the buyer of vehicles in order to fraudulently secure bank and/or credit union financing from financial institutions in several states; and to obtain retail store credit and to make purchases at clothing and cellphone retailers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
According to court documents, banks and credit unions were defrauded of $899,866; cellphone retailers of $117,341; and clothing retailers of $14,067.
Difo-Castro pleaded guilty on September 19, 2019, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to access device fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and nineteen counts of wire fraud. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 87 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of federal supervised release. He was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $649,180.
Difo-Castro’s sentence is announced by Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus.
Also charged and convicted in these matters are:
- Reynaldo Martinez, 25, of Providence. Martinez pleaded guilty in November 2017 to four counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of access fraud, and one count each of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, attempted access fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen goods. He was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $38,126.62.
- Jason McDonald, 38, of Attleboro, MA. McDonald pleaded guilty in March 2018 to conspiracy, attempted bank fraud, fraudulent use of a Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $29,825.
- Donald A. Wicklund, 34, of Pawtucket, pleaded guilty in April 2018 to two counts of wire fraud, five counts of fraudulent use of a Social Security Number, five counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of bank fraud. He was sentenced by to 24 months and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $80,799.
- Yenesia Pujols, 48, of Providence, R.I., pleaded guilty in October 2019 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and three counts of wire fraud. She was sentenced to two years and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $86,144.
- Angel L. Morales, 54, of New York, NY, pleaded guilty in September 2019 to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, seven counts of bank fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $116,000.
- Patricia Peralta, 30, of Patterson, N.J., pleaded guilty on August 21, 2019, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access fraud, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and fraudulent use of a Social Security number. She is awaiting sentencing.
Also charged for his alleged participation in the conspiracy is Israel Arana Ruiz Velasco, 27, whose whereabouts are unknown. Velasco is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sixteen counts of wire fraud. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.
The investigations were conducted by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations, and the U.S. Secret Service.
Acting United States Richard B. Myrus acknowledges the United States Postal Inspection Service; the East Providence, Warwick, Seekonk and Mansfield Police Departments; and the Rhode Island State Police for their assistance in the investigation of these matters.