BOSTON – Six individuals were indicted today by a federal grand jury in Boston in connection with a scheme to use the stolen identities of United States citizens from Puerto Rico to fraudulently purchase vehicles and other merchandise and apply for and utilize bank accounts and credit cards. Two other defendants were indicted for related conduct last week.
The defendants were charged in a 42-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number. The defendants were previously charged by complaint.
According to charging documents, between October 2017 and January 2019, the defendants visited Massachusetts car dealerships to purchase late-model vehicles and applied for 100% financing. In support of their applications, the defendants provided stolen biographical information of real United States citizens, fraudulent Puerto Rico driver’s licenses and Social Security cards in those identities, as proof of identification. The group allegedly used the stolen identities to illegally open bank accounts and credit cards and purchase vehicles, many of which were exported out of the United States.
The following individuals were indicted today:
- Ricardo Acevedo, 32, of Manchester, N.H., allegedly used stolen identities to obtain car loans and purchase three cars worth $90,582, collectively;
- Joshua Cruz, 32, of Manchester, N.H., allegedly used stolen identities to obtain car loans and purchase vehicles worth more than $170,288, collectively;
- Jose Irizarry, 44, of Union City, N.J., allegedly used stolen identities to obtain car loans and purchase three cars worth $140,124, collectively;
- Arialka Moya, 31, of Lowell, Mass., allegedly used a stolen identity to obtain a car loan to purchase one car worth $60,982;
- Alvin Rivera, 37, of Haverhill, Mass., allegedly supplied co-defendants with stolen personal identifying information of United States citizens, providing detailed instructions as to how to perpetrate the scheme to defraud and coordinating payments to co-conspirators; and
- Wanda Sanchez, 36, of Lawrence, Mass., allegedly used a stolen identity to obtain a car loan to purchase one car worth $50,962.
Two additional individuals, Neida Lopez, 43, of Methuen, Mass., and Iyaury Rodriguez, 39, of Reading, Penn., were indicted on Sept. 29, 2020. Specifically, in March 2020, Lopez allegedly used the stolen identity of a United States citizen from Puerto Rico to obtain a credit card and accrued $21,931 in charges on that card, including charges at various retailers in Massachusetts. In April 2020, working with co-conspirators, she allegedly used the credit card to purchase a specialty printer ribbon that can be used to print identification cards.
On three dates in June and September of 2018, Rodriguez allegedly used stolen identities to obtain financing and purchase three vehicles worth at least $98,432. He allegedly visited Massachusetts car dealerships to purchase late-model vehicles and applied for 100% financing. As proof of identification, he provided stolen biographical information of real United States citizens, as well as fraudulent Puerto Rico driver’s licenses and Social Security cards in those identities.
In a coordinated multi-jurisdictional effort, individuals allegedly involved in this scheme or related schemes were also charged in the District of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey, the Northern District of Ohio and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security’s Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a specialized field investigative group comprised of personnel from various local, state, and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring, and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity, and benefit fraud schemes. The DBFTF has been investigating this scheme since January 2019.
The charges of wire fraud and 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 up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of false representation of a Social Security number provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill, Woburn and Dartmouth Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elianna Nuzum and Adam Deitch of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.