United Airlines Employee Found To Be Identity Theft Fraudster

A United Airlines employee has been arrested for identity theft after working for more than two decades under a false name. Ricardo César Guedes was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1972. However, he has been living under the name Eric Ladd and working as a flight attendant for United Airlines since the late 1990s.

A United Airlines flight attendant has been arrested for identity theft. Photo: United Airlines

Impersonating a deceased child

William Ericson Ladd was born in 1974 in Atlanta. Tragically, the boy passed away in a car accident before he even turned five. But, 23 years later, a man by the same name was busily working at United Airlines as a flight attendant. That was until he was caught.

Following a rigorous investigation, the man admitted to being previously known as Ricardo César Guedes. He was just two years older than Ladd, and had been posing as the dead boy for more than two decades. During those years, he had bought a home in Lake Houston, married, taken out loans and worked as a flight attendant, all under the fake name.

Guedes had assumed the identity of the Atlanta-born William Ericson Ladd in the late 1990s, and had convinced authorities to issue a passport in his name. He later shortened his name to Eric Ladd. Under this fake identity, the man lived for 23 years, even sponsoring his partner’s residency permit.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Guedes is one of an average of 2,000 passport fraud cases recorded each year. Local prosecution records show that he is one of several defendants who are accused of playing the long game, building fake identities over many years.

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How he got caught

The unraveling of Guedes’ long fraud began in 2020 when he applied for a renewal on his passport. Despite having the document issued several times already, this time the authorities were alert. The State Department said there were several ‘fraud indicators’ within his application, and launched an investigation as a result.

Notable was the issuance date of his social security number – 1996 – which would have been when Ladd was 22 years old. The Department also found a death certificate for William Ericson Ladd, which had the same date of birth as the United flight attendant was claiming.

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The man now faces trial on several counts. Photo: United Airlines

As part of their investigation, the mother of the deceased child Debra Green was contacted. She was shocked to learn that someone had been using her son’s identity. Guedes’ own mother was identified from Facebook photos, and advised authorities that she had never heard of Eric Ladd but that she had a son living in the US.

The fraudster was finally arrested in Houston Airport as he passed through the crewmember checkpoint to the secure area of the airport. He now faces trial for aggravated identity theft, impersonating a US citizen, entering a secure airport area with fake documents and passport fraud.

According to United, the man no longer works for the airline. United further states that it has a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements.

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