BOSTON – A Lawrence man was sentenced today for his role in 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.
Joshua Cruz, 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris to two years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Cruz was also ordered to pay $75,346 in restitution to the victims.
In September 2023, Cruz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and false representation of a Social Security number. Cruz and multiple co-defendants were charged by criminal complaint in September 2020 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020. Cruz previously served two years in state custody for related conduct.
Between December 2018 and January 2019, the defendant visited Massachusetts car dealerships to purchase late-model vehicles and applied for 100% financing. In support of the applications, the defendant 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. Cruz was charged with using stolen identities to obtain car loans and purchase three cars worth over $170,000, collectively.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Michael J. Krol, 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. Valuable 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 the Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), 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.