Photo Credit: UA Newsroom
Flight Attendant Used Stolen Identity To Illegally Work For United Airlines For Two Decades
For 23 years, William Ericson Ladd worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines, or so the airline thought. It was recently discovered that Ladd is actually Ricardo Cesar Guedes, a Brazilian man who had been using Ladd’s stolen identity for over twenty years.
The real Ladd was born in 1974 and died in a car crash in 1979 in Washington state, just a month before his fifth birthday, according to a court complaint. Ladd’s mother, Debra Lynn Hays, confirmed the boy’s birth and death to DSS special agents in July 2021.
Investigators say Guedes was able to own a Lake Houston home, get married, buy a BMW, take out a loan and work as a flight attendant, including 40 trips for United in 2020— all while posing as the deceased Ladd.
Guedes was detained for impersonating a U.S. citizen, entering a secure airport area with fake documents and passport fraud.
As Insider reported, a criminal investigation was launched, and agents were able to trace his identity back to Brazil with fingerprints he submitted for his Brazilian national identity document in the 1990s. Court documents reveal the technical staff at Customs and Border Protection compared those fingerprints to the set Guedes submitted for his background check for employment with United and confirmed they were a match.
United confirmed to Insider that Guedes is no longer with the company.
“United has a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements,” the carrier said.
According to the complaint, investigators and TSA agents observed Guedes using the KCM line at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to access the “secure area” of the airport, which is part of the terminal that requires a security check to enter. DSS agents arrested Guedes at the airport after watching him board a flight.
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, using a stolen identity over many years.