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19 charged in ride-hailing fake driver account scheme

May 7, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors charged 19 people Friday for their alleged roles in a nationwide scheme that used stolen identities to cheat ride-hailing and delivery service companies.

The suspects, all Brazilian citizens, set up fraudulent driver accounts with multiple ride-hailing and delivery companies using about 2,000 stolen identities, federal prosecutors in Boston said.

They then sold those accounts to drivers who might not otherwise qualify for jobs with those services, including those who could not pass background checks or were ineligible to work in the U.S., prosecutors said in a statement.

The suspects also used automated bots and GPS spoofing technology to fake drivers’ locations to increase the income earned from the fraudulent accounts, authorities allege.

“They thought it would be an easy way to generate some quick money, but in doing so they potentially compromised public safety by putting people behind the wheel who couldn’t get jobs with these companies on their own,” said Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston office.

The scheme ran from January 2019 through at least April, and at least five companies were defrauded.

Ten suspects, most from Massachusetts but also from California and Florida, have been arrested. Nine others remain at large.