RICHMOND, Va. – A Los Angeles, California, man pleaded guilty today to fraud and identity theft charges in connection with stealing the identity of the owner of a Richmond auto shop, Lotsey & Hardy Tire Company.
According to court documents, around January 2022, Daniel Cruz, 30, obtained the owner’s personal information and used that information to take over the auto shop and its owner’s accounting software, bank accounts, email addresses, and phone numbers. Through approximately February 2023, armed with this sensitive information, Cruz re-routed calls placed to Lotsey & Hardy to his own phone, transferred money to his personal bank account from bank accounts of the shop and its owner, took out loans in the owner’s name, ordered and picked up auto parts in Los Angeles and billed them to the Richmond auto shop, and ordered auto parts by impersonating the shop’s owner. In all, the loss resulting from Cruz’s crimes totaled at least $34,514.87.
Cruz is scheduled to be sentenced on August 31. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 consecutive years in prison for aggravated identity theft, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for wire fraud. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Kyo M. Dolan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. Magistrate Judge Summer L. Speight accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shea Gibbons is prosecuting the case.
The Central Virginia Financial Crimes Task Force, created in 2022, is a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and representatives of local financial institutions. Co-chaired by the Richmond Field Office of the United States Secret Service and the Washington Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Task Force utilizes the knowledge and experience of its many partners to develop intelligence and pursue investigations into crimes that target or involve financial institutions located throughout the Central Virginia region.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:23-cr-32.