Prosecutors unveiled charges Thursday against 13 people — most from Westchester County — in connection with a scheme to defraud drivers of two ride-sharing companies. They stole millions of dollars from thousands of driver accounts, prosecutors said.
“These 13 defendants allegedly developed a sophisticated scheme to swindle hard-working drivers out of their income,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in the announcement. “Through elaborate identity theft and phishing, the defendants allegedly diverted millions of dollars from company accounts to line their own pockets. Thanks to the skilled investigative work of the Criminal Investigators of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service, the defendants now will be held to account.”
The crime ring allegedly targeted drivers associated with two companies which the prosecutors did not name.
In each case, they ordered rides on the company’s mobile application which gave them the driver’s name, picture, and an anonymized phone number so that the rider could communicate with the driver. Then they canceled the ride and called the driver on the driver’s anonymized telephone number impersonating a company representative. They deceived the drivers into providing unique personal identifiers and other information that was then used to obtain unauthorized access into each company’s online driver accounts. Once they logged into driver accounts without authorization, they altered information in those compromised accounts and diverted driver funds to bank accounts they controlled.
Charged yesterday were Louis Pina, 23, of Bronx, NY; Malik Gray, 21, of Mount Vernon, NY; George Joseph, 22, of Mount Vernon, NY; Akeem Krubally, 21, of Mount Vernon, NY; Theresa Outerbridge, 27, of Mount Vernon, NY; Devon Williams, 22, of Mount Vernon, NY; Hakeem Baldeo, 20, of Rye Brook, NY; Quinteen Lynch, 27, of Mount Vernon, NY; Khalid Nazzal, 22, of Yonkers, NY; Francisco Viruet, 19, of Bronx, NY; Johnny Serrano, 25, of Bronx, NY; Thalia Caquias, 20, of Bronx, NY; and Tanesha Food, 21, of Mount Vernon, NY.
They are each charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of seven-and-a-half years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison that must be imposed consecutively to any other sentence.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provide for informational purposes only, as any sentencing will be determined by the judge, prosecutors said.
Kim thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance and cooperation throughout the investigation, and also thanked the FBI’s Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force for their assistance.
Kim also praised the outstanding investigative work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the USSS.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sheb Swett and Noah Solowiejczyk are in charge of the prosecution.