Boston - A New Jersey man was sentenced today for participating in a multi-state identity theft conspiracy that was conducted, in part, over jail telephone lines and netted over $565,000.
Bryan Wells, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to four years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, forfeiture and restitution in the amount of $338,000. In April 2011, Wells pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. In November 2012 Wells’s co-conspirator, Shawn Robert Pelley, was sentenced to nine years and five months in prison.
From approximately January 2010 through August 2010, Wells conspired with Pelley to commit a string of frauds and identity thefts across the country. Shortly after Wells was released from jail and put on probation, Wells crossed the country obtaining real drivers’ licenses in other people’s names. He then to set up bank accounts in those names. Wells wrote and cashed counterfeit checks on various businesses’ accounts, and took over the financial accounts of several individuals. He transferred the businesses’ and individuals’ money into his bank accounts, newly-opened in other people’s names, and then transferred the money among accounts and withdrew cash to confuse the money trail.
Wells did all this while consulting over jail telephone lines with Pelley, whom Wells had befriended in jail and who had remained in jail after Wells was released. At times, Pelley and Wells discussed over the telephone which victims to target and how to accomplish the fraud. At other times, Wells committed the fraud while surreptitiously listening to Pelley’s telephoned instructions over a hidden Bluetooth earpiece. At yet other times, Wells connected Pelley to the outside world via conference calls. For example, Wells helped Pelley talk directly with Massachusetts and Florida government agencies in order to figure out how Wells could obtain a Florida driver’s license in a victim’s name.
A representative theft involved a victim identified as R.P.O. In February 2010, Wells obtained a copy of R.P.O.’s birth certificate. Within a week, Pelley and Wells convinced the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to send a copy of R.P.O.’s driver’s license to Florida, after which time Wells obtained a Florida driver’s license in R.P.O.’s name. Wells transferred $120,000 from R.P.O.’s investment account into bank accounts that he had opened in R.P.O.’s name. Wells then withdrew substantial sums in cash. In addition, Pelley and Wells also interrupted R.P.O.’s telephone and e-mail services so that R.P.O. would not learn of the $120,000 theft.
Pelley and Wells also targeted and obtained other victims’ funds, with losses totaling over $565,000.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Kevin Niland, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit.