Fake ID’s Helped Russians In Meddling With The 2016 Elections

There are many Fake IDs being offered online but it is strongly emphasized that these fakes must be used only for entertainment purposes and not for crimes. Nevertheless, a California-based salesman of fake ID’s served a 6-month stint in federal prison because he inadvertently helped Russian trolls to meddle in the 2016 elections.

According to the Bureau of Prisons website, Richard Pinedo, a 29-year old salesman of fake ID’s was released from federal prison after pleading guilty to identity fraud. Part of his 6-month sentence was served at a federal prison near Taft, California while the other months will be house arrest. Pinedo was also ordered by the judge to complete 100 hours of community service.

Pinedo acknowledged his guilt in selling dummy bank accounts to Russians who used the fake ID’s for online payment services like PayPal. According to Pinedo’s lawyer, his client was not aware that he was dealing with Russian customers that have plans to meddle in the election. Pinedo was able to earn $40,000 within 3 years.

The 500-page Mueller report mentioned Pinedo’s name 8 times and most of the references can be found in a section about Kremlin-backed trolls from a company named Internet Research Agency that used social media platforms to spread political propaganda to US voters. However, the investigation did not establish that Pinedo was aware that the persons who purchased bank accounts from him were members of IRA.

IRA members were able to access Pinedo’s sales account number which they used to anonymously access a financial network where they transacted with US companies and individuals. With Pinedo’s fake bank accounts and the funding from a Russian oligarch, IRA was able to reach out to millions of US voters through social media. Prosecutors from Mueller’s office said the Pinedo cooperated with the investigation and took full responsibility for his actions.

Websites that offer Fake IDs have stressed that the ID’s must not be used to break laws. Although the fake ID looks real, there are some notable differences in thickness, color, font and placements. Meanwhile, it is not a substandard product because you will still get value for the money paid.