This is quite a story — a United Airlines flight attendant has been arrested after working for 23 years using the stolen identity of a person who he had never met, who passed away at a young age.
Brazilian man becomes United flight attendant for 23 years
Ricardo Cesar Guedes is a Brazilian man who was born in 1972 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. However, for the past 23 years he has been working as a United Airlines flight attendant using the name Eric Ladd. How could this happen?
- Over two decades ago, Guedes managed to convince officials to issue him a United States passport in the name of William Ericson Ladd (which Guedes later shortened to Eric Ladd)
- The “real” Ladd was born in 1974 (two years after Guedes) in Atlanta, and tragically died in a car accident at the age of four
- Sure enough, Guedes was issued a passport in Ladd’s name, and even had that renewed several times, and also managed to get a residency permit for his partner using his stolen identity
- Guedes then started working as a United Airlines flight attendant in the late 1990s using his stolen identity, where he worked until recently
How did the flight attendant get busted?
Guedes successfully worked at United Airlines for over two decades, so how did he finally get caught? Well, his identity started to unravel in 2020:
- In December 2020, Guedes tried to get his passport renewed under his stolen identity, and the State Department noticed “various fraud indicators,” so an investigation was launched
- Ladd’s mother was approached in July 2021, and that was the first time she learned that someone was using the identity of her son who had passed
- Investigators were able to compare fingerprints submitted by Guedes in Brazil to fingerprints he submitted in the United States under Ladd’s identity, and they were a match
- Guedes was finally arrested at Houston Airport (IAH); federal agents were waiting for him to pass through a Known Crewmember Checkpoint (which is the entrance that eligible flight attendants use to enter the secure area of the airport, without having to go through security)
The man now faces several charges, including:
- False impersonation of a United States citizen
- Providing a false statement in a passport application
- Fraudulent entry into the secure area of an airport
United Airlines has stated that Guedes is no longer employed by the airline, and that United has “a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements.” And indeed it seems like the government, rather than United Airlines, is to blame for this mistake.
A Brazilian man stole an American’s identity back in the 1990s, and used that to work as a United Airlines flight attendant for 23 years. He was only caught while filing for a passport renewal in late 2020, when officials noticed something was suspicious.
The man was finally recently arrested at the airport, and now faces charges, in addition to of course losing his job. What a story…
(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)