Joshua Cruz of Lawrence Pleads Guilty in Conspiracy to Use Stolen Identities to Fraudulently Purchase Vehicles

BOSTON – A Lawrence man pleaded guilty today to 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, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and false representation of a Social Security number. U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for Jan. 12, 2024. The defendant and multiple co-defendants were charged by criminal complaint in September 2020 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020.

According to charging documents, 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.

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides 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 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.

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.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.