A Brazilian national assumed the identity of a deceased American to land a job with United Airlines and served 23 years as a flight attendant before he was caught.
Brazilian National Who Served 23 Years As A Flight Attendant For United Airlines Arrested For Assuming Identity Of Dead American
Four-year-old William Ericson Ladd died in a car accident in 1979, one month prior to his fifth birthday. Authorities allege that Brazilian national Ricardo Cesar Guedes, born in 1972, assumed Ladd’s identity and successfully applied for a U.S. passport in 1998.
That year, he also became a United Airlines flight attendant and served in that role for 23 years. Over that period, he renewed his passport six times and was even able to sponsor residency for his spouse. He bought a house in Houston, a BMW, and flew all over the world for United.
When he last tried to renew his passport in December 2020, it was flagged for fraud by the State Department and an investigation was launched. Passport officials were curious why he had not applied for a social security card until 1996. Furthermore, Guedes’ birthdate and name on the application matched the birth date on the death certificate of William Ladd.
First, investigators interviewed the mother of the real Ladd to confirm he was deceased. Next, Guedes’ fingerprints submitted for his (initial) U.S. passport under the name of William Ladd were found to match those he had submitted in Brazil for his identity documents there.
Consequently, authorities tailed Guedes at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. First, they watched him pass through a Known Crewmember Checkpoint (flight attendants and pilots who undergo a background check can enter the secure side of airport without going through a security checkpoint). Upon boarding his flight, federal law enforcement confronted him.
He first identified himself as Ladd, but became silent when authorities showed him a picture of Ladd’s grave in Alabama. Guedes then confessed to being an imposter, before remaking:
“I had a dream, and the dream is over. Now I have to face reality.”
Guedes is now under arrest now faces three charges:
- Providing a false statement in a passport application
- Falsely impersonating a US citizen
- Entering an airport secure area under false pretenses
United Airlines noted:
“United has a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements.”
Indeed, there is no evidence to indicate United was responsible for Guedes’ identity theft.
A former United Airlines flight attendant from Brazil flew for 23 years under a false name with a false identify of a dead American. He is now under arrest and his dream is indeed over.
Finally, I will add that while Guedes’ actions cannot be condoned, it is a shame authorities spent so long tracking him down when so many identify thieves use harvested personal information for far more pernicious purposes and get away with it. This was not a “victimless crime” in that Ladd’s mother was painfully reminded of her son’s untimely death by investigators, but I don’t think Guedes set out to hurt anyone…like so many other illegal aliens, he simply wanted a better life and was willing to accept the risk for doing so. He now rightfully faces the consequences for his actions.
(images taken from Guedes’ Twitter account // H/T: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)