Prominent Ghanaian Influencer Charged For Role In Romance Scheme And Extradited From United Kingdom To The United States
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LOUIS PINA was sentenced to 39 months in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud drivers of two ride-sharing companies (“Company-1” and “Company-2”) by accessing those drivers’ accounts without authorization in order to divert driver funds to bank accounts controlled by PINA and other members of the scheme (the “Scheme”). PINA previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who imposed today’s sentence. PINA is the eighth defendant to have pled guilty in this case.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Louis Pina was a leader of a criminal consortium that deceived the drivers of two ride-sharing companies, enabling the criminals to access drivers’ accounts and steal millions of dollars. Hard-working men and women who worked long hours to make a living had their accounts hacked into and their hard-earned money stolen. Now Louis Pina is going to prison for his crimes.”
According to the Complaint, the Indictment to which PINA pled guilty, court filings, and statements made in public court proceedings:
PINA and his co-defendants defrauded livery drivers and ride-sharing companies using mobile ride-sharing applications. The Scheme targeted drivers associated with Company-1 and Company-2. Scheme members called Company-1 and Company-2 drivers posing as Company-1 and Company-2 representatives, and deceived the drivers into providing unique personal identifiers and other information that was then used to obtain unauthorized access into the online Company-1 and Company-2 driver accounts. Once members of the Scheme logged into Company-1 and Company-2 driver accounts without authorization, they altered information in those compromised accounts and diverted driver funds to bank accounts they controlled. PINA personally called Company-1 and Company-2 drivers to obtain their login credentials, hacked the accounts of Company-1 and Company-2 drivers, and recruited others into the Scheme. Scheme members compromised hundreds of Company-1 and Company-2 driver accounts and stole millions of dollars from Company-1 and Company-2 driver accounts.
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In addition to the prison term, Judge Rakoff ordered PINA, 24, of the Bronx, New York, to make court-ordered restitution in the amount of $198,663 to Company-1 and $243,112 to Company-2.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the United States Secret Service. Mr. Berman further thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance and cooperation throughout this case, and also thanked the FBI’s Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force for their assistance.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sheb Swett and Noah Solowiejczyk are in charge of the prosecution.