Sprint Cell Phone Fraud Lands Final Defendant in Federal Prison
|Jan. 16, 2013|
HOUSTON – Four Houston area residents have been sentenced for conspiring to commit mail fraud involving the theft of Sprint cellular phone customer data and telephones, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Frederick Sears, 38, Lakreshia Shana Smith, 28, and Vernon R. Parker Jr., aka PJ or Chad, 33, all of Houston, each pleaded guilty July 20, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Troy Alexander Tipton, 21, of Tomball, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2012, to aiding and abetting access device fraud.
Today, Judge Lee H. Rosenthal handed Parker a sentence of 51 months to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. Last month, Judge Rosenthal sentenced Smith and Tipton each to three years of probation while Sears was ordered to serve 18 months in federal prison. Restitution was also ordered in the amount of 131,789.44 for all defendants.
Beginning in April 2011 through Oct. 7, 2011, Tipton, an employee of Modern Wireless, sold at least 400 customer accounts, including their access information, to Parker. Parker then directed Sears, Smith and others to make claims for replacement or additional cellular telephones valued at $400-500 each using the stolen customer accounts.
Sears and Smith were arrested after agents followed them around the Houston area where they picked up packages containing fraudulently obtained cellular telephones. Conspirators had placed phone and Internet orders for either replacement phones (claiming phones were lost or stolen) or additional phones to be charged to unknowing customers of Sprint. The packages were mailed from Sprint locations outside of Texas to various hotels and apartments as directed by the conspirators. The total loss to Sprint is estimated at more than $136,000 attributable to the Parker organization.
Parker will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The convictions are the result of an investigation conducted by the Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Minnis is prosecuted the case.