Andres Townes and Gloria Escobar, both of Revere, were arrested on Massachusetts Theft Crimes Charges in connection with fraudulent fare-evasion scheme that police allege bilked the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority of $4 million. Both were arraigned in Salem District Court earlier this week on charges including Larceny and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny.
According to police, Andres Townes and Gloria Escobar allegedly conspired in the production and sale of discounted MBTA passes to thousands of people in the greater Boston area and across Massachusetts. The alleged scheme was reportedly initiated from a single ad on Craigslist, and grew to a conglomerate involving a entire network of distributors serving customers making orders of the passes to a post office address.
The scheme was reportedly discovered by an MBTA conductor who noticed that a customer’s pass was faded. Further investigation led to authorities to question that rider, who informed the inspector that he had purchased the pass on Craigslist, which then revealed that the MBTA had no record of its serial number.
According to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office in Salem, currently on administrative leave, Andres Townes was employed by Cubic Transportation Systems, the california company that processes approximately $135 million in MBTA passes distributed annually, dating back to as early as 2007. Townes was reportedly responsible for overseeing the sale and service of all MBTA passes that were not purchases at MBTA stations, and therefore allegedly had access to MBTA machines that printed and encoded the ‘CharlieTickets’ and MBTA monthly passes.
Although the MBTA had implemented a system whereby the MBTA would receive notification of all new passes created, Andres Townes had allegedly discovered a way to bypass or disable those transmissions, which allegedly enabled him to create and distribute thousands of the fake passes. Once used, these fake passes were virtually undetectable by the electronic system and unable to be determined whether they came from legitimate accounts.
Andres Townes is believed to have profited in over $800,000 from the fake MBTA passes, while Escobar was allegedly paid approximately $25,000 per month for her involvement.
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