BOSTON — Two Brazilian nationals pleaded guilty on Monday, April 11, 2022, in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with ride-sharing 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. U.S. Primary District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf has scheduled sentencing for both defendants for August 4, 2022.
In May 2021, da Silveira and Barbosa were charged along with 17 co-defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using stolen identities and falsified documents to create fraudulent driver accounts to rent or sell to people who might otherwise not be eligible to drive for carpooling or delivery services.
According to the charging documents, the defendants allegedly used the victims’ credentials to apply for driver accounts with ride-sharing and delivery companies – allowing them to pass background checks required by the companies and create driver accounts on behalf of victims. The defendants allegedly obtained the names, dates of birth, driver’s license information and/or social security numbers of the victims from co-conspirators and other sources, including sites on the Dark Net. The defendants and co-conspirators also obtained driver’s license images directly from the victims, by photographing the victims’ licenses during an alcohol delivery by one of the services or by exchanging information with the victims at the following traffic accidents, which some defendants or co-conspirators intentionally caused in order to obtain license information. As a result of this scheme, Internal Revenue Service 1099 forms were generated on behalf of the victims for income the conspirators earned from ride-sharing and delivery companies.
As part of the scheme, Barbosa and da Silveira obtained driver’s licenses and social security numbers that they and their co-conspirators obtained from the DarkNet and other sources. They then used these stolen IDs to create and apply for numerous fraudulent accounts with ride sharing and delivery companies and provided these IDs to other co-conspirators who also created fraudulent accounts.
To circumvent the facial recognition technology used by ride-sharing and delivery companies as a security measure, Barbosa altered the images of the victims’ driver’s licenses to display photos of the drivers renting or buying the fraudulent accounts. In total, Barbosa admitted to creating more than 2,000 fraudulent carpool accounts.
Barbosa and da Silveira also advertised fraudulent driver accounts for rent and purchase to potential drivers, including through WhatsApp chat groups aimed at Brazilian nationals living in the United States. Barbosa and da Silveira managed the fraudulent accounts they were renting, including collecting rental payments and resolving issues that arose. Additionally, Barbosa and da Silveira used fraudulent driver accounts to exploit referral bonus programs offered by ride-sharing and delivery companies and used “bots” and GPS “spoofing” technology to increase revenue. companies. Barbosa and da Silveira each received approximately $791,000 and $570,000, respectively, from the program in the form of rental payments from people driving under these accounts and payments from businesses generated with these accounts.
Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested in connection with the plot and three remain at large. Barbosa and da Silveira are respectively the fifth and sixth defendants to plead guilty in this case. If you believe 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.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries 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 of the offense , whichever is greater. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a sentence of at least two years in prison to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and the laws that govern sentencing in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division, made the announcement. Valuable assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police; Concord, Lexington, Plymouth, Wilmington, Marlborough, and Village of Rye Brook Police Departments (NY); United States Customs and Border Protection; US Postal Inspection Service and the National Crime Insurance Bureau. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen A. Kearney and David M. Holcomb of Rollins’ Securities, Finance and Cyber Fraud Unit are pursuing the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. Other defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.