Flavio Candido da Silva, 36, of Malden, pleaded guilty on December 17 to being involved with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with rideshare and delivery service companies. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In May, da Silva was charged along with 18 codefendants 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 the defendants to pass those companies’ required background checks and create driver accounts in victims’ names. At times, it is alleged, 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 coconspirators and other sources, including sites on the Dark Net. Reportedly, the defendants and coconspirators 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 coconspirators intentionally caused in order to obtain victims’ license information. As a result of the scheme, Internal Revenue Service 1099 Forms were generated in victims’ names for income that conspirators earned from the rideshare and delivery companies.
It is also 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, da Silva admitted that he rented and sold driver accounts opened in the names of individual victims. Between June 2019 and December 2020, da Silva received approximately $200,000 in payments from individual renters and purchasers of fraudulent driver accounts. Da Silva also referred drivers to other coconspirators and coordinated with coconspirators about preventing accounts from being flagged for fraud by the rideshare and delivery companies.
Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the conspiracy, and three remain at large. If anyone believes they might 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.
Under federal law, da Silva could face 22 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 22, 2022.