The last of five Brazilian citizens indicted by San Diego federal prosecutors for running a nationwide scheme that involved stealing the identities of customers of ride-sharing and food delivery apps has pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. on Wednesday.
Prosecutors say that over the course of three years, the group stole information from the victims’ driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers, used that information to create driver accounts for ride-sharing and delivery companies, then used, rented or sold those accounts, including to people who would not otherwise qualify to drive for the companies.
The US Attorney’s Office says the defendants received payments from the companies and laundered proceeds from the scheme, which began in 2018.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the defendants moved away from ride-sharing companies as demand for those services waned, and largely moved to food delivery services, which were much more successful during the pandemic. .
Prosecutors say that in addition to defrauding app-based companies, the defendants also stole and used the identities of nearly 100 people. The United States Attorney’s Office did not identify which companies were used in the alleged scheme.
Gustavo De Avila Moreira Farinha, 30; Tatiana Pereira Arantes, 38; Natalia Magalhaes Rocha, 30; Leonardo Trulsen De Oliveira, 30, and Thassya Da Silva Alves, 30, were indicted last year and have since pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
“As of today, all five defendants in this case have admitted to their elaborate scheme to steal the identities of hundreds of unsuspecting victims, many of whom have turned to food delivery services to survive the pandemic,” he said. US Attorney Randy Grossman. “Identity theft can be a nightmare of frustration and anguish for victims struggling to regain their good name. These defendants are the ones fighting now.”