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Press Release

Revere, Massachusetts Man Sentenced in Nationwide Rideshare and Delivery Account Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Revere, MA, man was sentenced yesterday for defrauding rideshare companies using fraudulent driver accounts that he created using stolen identities.

Thiago De Souza Prado, 39, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf to 70 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Wolf also imposed a $50,000 fine. Prado was charged in May 2021 along with 17 others. In September 2023, Prado was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

“What Thiago De Souza Prado and this crew did is truly egregious. They stole the identities of unsuspecting consumers, violated customers’ privacy, and potentially compromised public safety by putting unqualified drivers behind the wheel of these rideshare and food delivery services which millions of people rely on,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “We are very grateful to Uber’s Global Security and Investigations team for their diligent efforts in rooting out this massive fraud ring, for quickly bringing it to the FBI’s attention, and for working with us to ensure the defendants in this case were brought to justice and held accountable for the crimes they committed.” 

According to the government’s evidence presented at trial, starting in 2019, Prado obtained stolen Massachusetts driver’s licenses and bought social security numbers on the darknet. He and his co-conspirators then used the stolen identities to pass the criminal background checks, the sex offender registry check, and the driving record check required by the rideshare companies and by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

Prado and his co-conspirators also used the stolen social security numbers for tax reporting on their fraudulent accounts. Once the driving accounts were active, Prado either used the accounts himself or rented them out to others, who also could not pass the background checks, often because they did not have social security numbers and were in the United States illegally.

Prado also used his fake driver accounts to get bonuses from rideshare companies by referring his other fake driver accounts as new drivers. In addition, Prado and his co-conspirators used an app, which they called “the drone,” to spoof rides and ride lengths, so that they were paid by the rideshare companies for “ghost rides” or for rides that were longer and more expensive than those actually provided. Prado received payments via bank accounts that he opened in the names of identity theft victims.

United States Attorney Zachary Cunha of the District of Rhode Island and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Social Security Administration, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Holcomb and Kriss Basil of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case.

Mr. Cunha was assigned to oversee this matter by the Department of Justice upon recusal of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

 

 

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Updated December 19, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-129