Authorities uncover $1.5 million+ scheme to use stolen ids to make purchases in Mass., New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania
A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty this week to orchestrating over $1.5 million in schemes to use the stolen identities of United States citizens from Puerto Rico to fraudulently purchase vehicles and other merchandise in multiple states and apply for and utilize bank accounts and credit cards.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, Alvin Rivera, 39, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number. Rivera pleaded guilty to similar schemes in two cases, one originating in the District of Massachusetts and another originating in the District of New Jersey that was transferred to the District of Massachusetts for resolution. U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing in both cases for June 15, 2023.
Rivera and multiple co-defendants were charged by criminal complaint in September 2020 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020 in the District of Massachusetts. In a coordinated multi-jurisdictional effort, the defendant was also charged in the District of New Jersey, and others involved in the scheme were also charged there, in the state of New Jersey, the Northern District of Ohio and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
According to charging documents, between October 2017 and September 2020, Rivera was the leader of a conspiracy in Massachusetts that used stolen identity information of United States citizens to obtain credit and goods. Under Rivera’s direction, and with stolen identity information that he provided, co-conspirators visited Massachusetts car dealerships to purchase late-model vehicles and applied for 100% financing. In support of the applications, the co-conspirators provided stolen biographical information from real United States citizens, fraudulent Puerto Rico driver’s licenses and Social Security cards in those identities, as proof of identification. The co-conspirators 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.
According to charging documents, between October 2017 and February 2018, Rivera also personally used stolen identity information of United States citizens to apply for credit and fraudulently purchase vehicles in a similar scheme in New Jersey.
The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud provide 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 upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Matthew B. Millhollin, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; John E. Mawn Jr., Interim Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; and Brockton Police Chief Brenda Perez made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill, Woburn and Dartmouth Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elianna J. Nuzum and Adam W. Deitch of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
The District of Massachusetts investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a specialized investigative group comprising personnel from various state, local, 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 District of New Jersey investigation was conducted by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations