Fraud and Identity Theft Conspiracy Ringleader Pleads Guilty
PROVIDENCE, RI – The leader of a multi-state conspiracy that stole and used personal identifying information of others to defraud banks, finance companies, car dealerships and retailers of more than $1.3 million pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence today to conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and fraud charges, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman; Stephen Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service; and Scott E. Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Octavio Andres Difo-Castro, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, admitted that he employed several individuals who, at his direction, opened bank accounts and applied for and received financing for automobiles, clothing, and electronic devices using fraudulent driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, and other documents he created with stolen information he purchased on the Dark Web.
Difo-Castro’s admitted to the court that, at his direction, several individuals opened bank accounts using fraudulent IDs he provided 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 used stolen IDs he provided to obtain retail store credit and make purchases at clothing and cellphone retailers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
According to information presented to the court, banks and credit unions were defrauded of $899,866; cellphone retailers of $117,341; and clothing retailers of $14,067.
Difo-Castro pleaded guilty today to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to access device fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and nineteen counts of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 13, 2020.
Also charged and convicted in these matters are:
- Reynaldo Martinez, 25, of Providence, who 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. Martinez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $38,126.62 to businesses he defrauded;
- Jason McDonald, 37, of Attleboro, MA, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to conspiracy, attempted bank fraud, fraudulent use of a Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft. McDonald was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 39 months in federal prison;
- Donald A. Wicklund, 33, of Pawtucket, pleaded guilty on April 12, 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. Wicklund was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 24 months and one day in federal prison; and
- Patricia Peralta, 28, of Patterson, N.J., pleaded guilty on August 21, 2019, of 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 scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2020.
Yenesia Pujols, 47, of Providence, R.I., arrested on February 8, 2019, is awaiting trial on one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and Social Security fraud, and three counts of wire fraud.
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 led by the U.S. Secret Service, with the assistance of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations.
United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman acknowledges and thanks the United States Postal Inspection Service; East Providence, Warwick, Seekonk and Mansfield Police Departments; and the Rhode Island State Police for their assistance in the investigation of these matters.