A man from Maryland has been convicted of selling place of employment information (POE) illegally obtained from workforce agencies in multiple states.
Guy Cuomo of Frederick was found guilty on Monday of being a member of a fraud and identity theft scheme that profited from a practice known as ‘skiptracing.’
Under the process, information is gathered on a debtor’s last known place of employment and sold to debt collectors.
Cuomo, 54, worked for and managed companies owned by 42-year-old Jason “J.R.” Trowbridge in Frederick, Maryland, including Paymerica Corporation.
Posing as debtors, Cuomo and five co-conspirators at Paymerica systemically created unemployment insurance accounts in multiple state workforce agencies’ computer systems using the social security numbers and other personally identifying data belonging to their unknowing victims.
After confirming the employers that the debtors had worked for, Paymerica sold this information to debt collectors for approximately $90 per debtor.
Paymerica made nearly $1m selling the stolen POE information for as many as 12,000 people from 40 states over approximately three years.
Evidence presented at trial showed that attempts had been made to unlawfully obtain the POE for up to 200,000 debtors from all 50 states.
“Guy Cuomo and his co-conspirators ran a boiler room for identity theft,” said United States attorney Carla Freedman, “They used personal identifying information to trick state workforce agencies into disclosing the last known places of employment for thousands of victims.”
Cuomo, Trowbridge, and the other conspirators tried to cover up their illegal activity by using Virtual Private Networks to mask the Internet Protocol addresses used to access and fill out the unemployment insurance applications in the debtors’ names.
Cuomo was charged in June 2019. Following a five-day trial, a jury convicted Cuomo on Monday of computer fraud, misuse of a social security number, aggravated identity theft and additional related conspiracy charges. Cuomo could receive a maximum prison term of 22 years when he is sentenced on March 16, 2022.
For his part in the conspiracy, Trowbridge agreed to a sentence of 39 months, which is pending approval by the court.