A group of alleged scammers made $195,000 running a scam whereby they referred fake drivers to delivery apps to receive cash.
The US Justice Department has charged over a dozen people with the alleged crime.
Prosecutors say that the suspects created fake accounts using stolen personal information before selling them to unqualified drivers and collecting referral bonuses which are commonly used by apps to incentivise new workers to join.
The ring also allegedly built its own software to trick the apps.
If found guilty, the accused will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while aggravated identify theft constitutes a sentence of two years itself.
The charges against the suspects were from five unnamed companies.
The complainants’ details however do match problems reported by Instacart and Amazon Flex among a number of companies.
In order to carry out the crimes, the group’s members allegedly asked customers permission to scan their driver’s license when delivery alcohol.
Prosecutors claim that defendants altered the photos and paired them personal information stolen separately before creating fake accounts which they sold or rented to drivers.
The fake accounts also helped the group collect cash from referral schemes that couldn’t reach up to $1,000 each, according to prosecutors.
One message shows a delivery company paid $194,800 after getting referrals for 487 fake accounts.
The lawsuit also claims that the group purchased software that it rented to drivers, helping them automatically snag orders through bots.
The software also fraudulently entered the wrong starting points for trips to make them appear longer, according to the prosecution.