Joon Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced this week that 13 people - including nine from Westchester - have been charged with accessing ride-sharing drivers’ accounts without authorization in order to divert driver funds to bank accounts they controlled.
According to Kim, the scheme targeted drivers associated with two companies, with the suspects allegedly deceiving drivers into providing unique personal identifiers and other information that was then used to obtain unauthorized access into their online driver accounts. Once the suspects entered those accounts, they altered information and diverted the funds into bank accounts they controlled.
In the first scheme, members ordered rides from the company, which provided them with the driver’s name, picture and a phone number. They then canceled the rides and proceeded to use the phone number to impersonate a representative from their employer. While on the phone, Kim said they would attempt to log into the driver’s account and obtain personal information.
Using the driver’s telephone number, driver’s license and other information obtained, they would then log into the driver’s account and use that access to change the bank account associated with it to one of the schemers, Kim said.
In the second scam, the schemers used a similar tactic, instead sending the driver a link to a malicious website that they controlled. Kim said that the website appeared as if it were maintained by the second ride-sharing company, and requested the driver’s login credentials, including a phone number, email address and password unique to the company.
Once that information was inserted, the schemers were able to use the information to log into the drivers’ accounts and divert funds to their bank accounts.
Kim said that through the course of the scheme, the participants compromised thousands of driver accounts and stole millions of dollars from those accounts. The schemers played different roles that included “recruiters,” “callers,” “account hackers,” and “money receivers.”
Among those charged includes Mount Vernon residents Malik Gray, 21, George Joseph, 22, Akeen Krubally, 21, Theresa Outerbridge, 27, Devon Williams, 22, Quinteen Lynch, 27 and Tanesha Ford, 21. Rye Brook resident Hakeen Baldeo, 20 and Yonkers resident Khalid Nazzal, 22 were also charged for their roles.
Each is charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
“These 13 defendants allegedly developed a sophisticated scheme to swindle hard-working drivers out of their income,” Kim stated. “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.”
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