A Providence woman was sentenced to two years in prison Thursday for participating in an identity fraud ring that was busted by federal agents as well as Seekonk and Mansfield police.
Yenesia Pujols, 48, was also sentenced in U.S. District Court to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $86,144 in restitution, according to the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office.
Pujols admitted to using stolen personal identifying information and fraudulent documents to pay for cosmetic surgery, according to prosecutors.
She also admitted to working with Octavio Andres Difo-Castro, 29, of Edgewater, N.J., the admitted leader of an organization with roots reaching into the Dominican Republic.
The organization purchased stolen personal identification, including Social Security numbers, from the “dark web,” prosecutors said.
Difo-Castro pleaded guilty in September to fraud, identity theft and conspiracy charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17. Pujols pleaded guilty on Oct. 15 to similar charges.
They were charged after an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, the Social Security Administration’s office in Boston and the federal Inspector General’s office. They were assisted by Seekonk and Mansfield police in addition to East Providence police.
The ring used the information to create fraudulent driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, get auto loans and open retail credit accounts used to purchase clothing, electronic devices and furniture. Some of the items were shipped to the Dominican Republic and displayed on Instagram accounts, according to prosecutors.
Pujols posed as bank and retail store customers by opening bank accounts to be used exclusively for the purpose of depositing fraudulently obtained car loan checks and quickly siphoning off cash, authorities said.
She also posed as a customer at Sprint retailers, from which she fraudulently obtained numerous high-end smartphones to be sold by Difo-Castro, according to information presented in court.
Pujols also admitted to using the personal information of an American citizen to get a job while also collecting Social Security disability benefits by claiming she was unable to work, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.