Brazilian national residing in Lowell among those charged with ride-hail, delivery account fraud

Lights of police car in night time. Night patrolling the city, crime scene. City lights at night background. Abstract blurry image.
Lights of police car in night time. Night patrolling the city, crime scene. City lights at night background. Abstract blurry image.

BOSTON — Fourteen Brazilian nationals — including one who resides in Lowell — were charged in a second superseding indictment by a federal grand jury this week in connection with a nationwide conspiracy to open fraudulent driver accounts with multiple ride-hailing and delivery service companies, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell’s office.

Edvaldo Rocha Cabral, 41, of Lowell, was among the 19 defendants indicted in May on conspiracy to commit wire fraud by using stolen identities and falsified documents, the release states. The defendants allegedly created fraudulent driver accounts for rent or sale to individuals who might not otherwise qualify to drive for the ride-hailing or delivery services.

According to Mendell’s office, the defendants allegedly exploited referral bonus programs offered by the ride-hailing and delivery companies and used “bots” and GPS “spoofing” technology to increase the income earned from the companies. Due to the scheme, IRS Forms 1099 were allegedly generated in the names of the victims for income that conspirators earned from the ride-hailing and delivery companies.

This week’s second superseding indictment charges 14 of the defendants — including Cabral — with aggravated identity theft related to their use of victims’ means of identification in connection with the conspiracy, the release states.

According to the release, the defendants allegedly used victims’ identifying information to apply for driver accounts with the ride-hailing and delivery companies, enabling defendants to pass those companies’ required background checks and to create driver accounts in the names of the victims.

“At times, defendants also 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 ride-hailing and delivery companies used as a security measure,” the release states. “The defendants allegedly obtained victims’ names, dates of birth, driver’s license information, and/or Social Security numbers from co-conspirators and other sources, including sites on the Dark Net.”

According to the release, the defendants and co-conspirators also allegedly obtained driver’s license images directly from victims by photographing licenses while completing an alcohol delivery through one of the services. The release states the defendants even obtained driver’s license images while exchanging information with victims following vehicle accidents — some of which were intentionally caused to obtain the license information.

The grand jury previously returned a superseding indictment charging two of the 19 defendants in the case with aggravated identity theft in June, according to the release. Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested while three remain at large.

Those who believe they may be a victim of the scheme should visit

The release states the charge of aggravated identity theft includes a sentence of at least two years in prison to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed. The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud includes 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.

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