Nine Indicted in Wide-Ranging Bank Fraud Conspiracy

Date: 
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Office Affiliation: 

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island:

PROVIDENCE – A Massachusetts used car dealer and eight others have been named in a federal superseding indictment brought in U.S. District Court in Providence, RI, charging them with allegedly participating in a wide-reaching conspiracy to defraud financial institutions in several states by obtaining fraudulent car loans secured with stolen personal identifying information and fraudulent documents created by members of the conspiracy.

It is alleged that Rolando E. Estrella, 32, of Dracut, Mass., a former owner of a used car dealership in Lawrence, MA, and at least eight others conspired to defraud financial institutions in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and several other states. As part of the scheme, the conspirators falsely identified complicit bank account holders as “sellers” and shell used car businesses created by members of the conspiracy to induce lenders to extend loans purportedly to purchase used cars.  As part of the scheme false bills of sale, automobile titles, pay stubs, and proof of employment were created identifying both members of the conspiracy and the shell companies as the sellers of the vehicles.

It is alleged that members of the conspiracy used stolen personal identification and the actual identities of conspirators to apply for loans and to open bank accounts in which the proceeds of fraudulent loans were deposited, after which the proceeds were quickly withdrawn.

Estrella, first charged in an indictment returned in December 2019 as part of this on-going investigation by the United States Secret Service and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations, is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence on Thursday.

Also named in the indictment are Emilio J. Frias-Reyes, 29, Erickson M. Ventura-Martinez, 25, Hiancarlos Mosquea-Ramos, 27, Bryant Polanco, 27, and Jonathan A. Pimental, 28, of Lawrence, MA, Fernando Diaz, 32, of Haverhill, MA, and Juan E. Felix-Fernandez, 51, of Hartford, CT.

Frias-Reyes and Ventura-Martinez were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence on July 17, 2020, and released on unsecured bond. Polanco and Mosquea-Ramos were arraigned on July 20, 2020, and released on unsecured bond.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Diaz, Pimental and Felix-Fernandez.

The superseding indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Providence on July 17, 2020, charges conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.  An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation and indictment are announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service Thomas P. Baker, and Scott E. Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.

This indictment marks the latest in a series of charges brought in this matter and arrests made by the Social Security Office of Inspector General and the United States Secret Service involving members of a fraud ring operating throughout the northeast United States.