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Two plead guilty in nationwide rideshare and delivery account fraud scheme

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  BOSTON – Two Brazilian nationals pleaded guilty on Monday, April 11, 2022, in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with rideshare and delivery service companies. Guilherme da Silveira, 29, of Revere, and Priscila Barbosa, 35, of Saugus, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Barbosa also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.

  In May 2021, da Silveira and Barbosa were charged along with 17 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 allegations in the charging documents, the defendants used victims’ identifying information to apply for driver accounts with the rideshare and delivery companies – enabling them to pass the companies’ required background checks and create driver accounts in victims’ names. Allegedly, the defendants obtained victims’ names, dates of birth, driver’s license information and/or Social Security numbers from coconspirators and other sources, including sites on the “darknet,” and the defendants and coconspirators also obtained driver’s license images directly from victims by photographing their licenses while completing an alcohol delivery through one of the service companies or while exchanging information with victims following vehicle accidents. Allegedly, some of the defendants or coconspirators intentionally caused the accidents to obtain license information. As a result of the scheme, IRS Forms 1099 were generated in victims’ names for income that conspirators earned from the rideshare and delivery companies.

  In connection with the scheme, Barbosa and da Silveira obtained driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers that they and their coconspirators procured from the “darknet” and other sources. They then used these stolen identifiers to create and apply for numerous fraudulent accounts with the rideshare and delivery companies and supplied these identifiers to other coconspirators who also created fraudulent accounts.

  To circumvent facial recognition technology utilized by rideshare and delivery companies as a security measure, Barbosa edited victims’ driver’s license images to display photos of the drivers renting or buying the fraudulent accounts. In total, Barbosa admitted to creating over 2,000 fraudulent rideshare accounts.

  Barbosa and da Silveira also advertised fraudulent driver accounts for rent and purchase to potential drivers, including via WhatsApp chat groups targeted to Brazilian nationals living in the United States. Barbosa and da Silveira managed the fraudulent accounts they rented out, specifically by collecting rental payments and troubleshooting issues that arose. Additionally, Barbosa and da Silveira 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. Barbosa and da Silveira each received over approximately $791,000 and $570,000, respectively, from the scheme in the form of rental payments from individuals driving under these accounts and payments from the companies generated with these accounts.

  U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencings for both defendants on Aug. 4, 2022. The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a sentence of at least two years in prison to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

  Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the conspiracy and three remain at large. Barbosa and da Silveira are the fifth and sixth defendants, respectively, to plead guilty in the case.

  If you believe that you may 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.

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