Two North Pole Men Sentenced for Orchestrating Identity Theft Conspiracy
Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that two North Pole men were sentenced to federal prison for orchestrating a sophisticated fraud, identity theft, and mail theft conspiracy involving numerous victims and thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases in Fairbanks and North Pole, Alaska.
Andrew Mac Saunders, 43, and Ian David Bowman, 30, were sentenced in Fairbanks today by Senior U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline to serve 40 months and 52 months in federal prison, respectively. In March 2019, Saunders and Bowman both pleaded guilty to federal identity theft charges. Saunders and Bowman also agreed to pay $29,418 in restitution to the victims in this case, plus other yearly payments to compensate victims for costs associated with identity theft protection. The Court set a final restitution hearing for Aug. 16, 2019.
According to court documents, on Jan. 19, 2018, the Alaska State Troopers (AST) responded to a report that Saunders and Bowman were perpetrating a scheme to manufacture and use counterfeit identification documents and counterfeit checks. A search warrant was executed on their shared residence in North Pole, where AST seized computers, hard drives, and printers that revealed that extent of the criminal scheme. The seized computers contained 51 unique counterfeit identification documents, of which ten displayed Saunders’ photograph, 21 displayed Bowman’s photograph, and 20 others displayed the photographs of their co-conspirators, and all of which included the names and addresses of victims. Numerous stolen identity documents were also seized that contained victims’ personal information.
The investigation revealed that Saunders and Bowman would steal mail from the mailboxes of victims who reside in Fairbanks and North Pole. They would then use that mail to create false driver’s licenses using specialized computer programs and printing equipment procured by Bowman, inserting his own and his co-conspirators’ photos along with the true name, address, and driver’s license number of victims. Saunders and Bowman would then create counterfeit checks printed in the victims’ names, open lines of credit at various retailers, and open accounts at stores like Verizon and AT&T to purchase high-value merchandise, often presenting the false driver’s licenses to complete the transactions. Saunders, Bowman and their co-conspirators sold this merchandise for cash, which they then used to purchase illegal narcotics.
At the sentencing hearings, Judge Beistline noted that this crime “involved greed,” was “sophisticated” and “premeditated,” and “required thought, effort, and work.” Judge Beistline also noted the sharp rise in identity theft crimes in recent years, as well as the importance of general deterrence in fashioning the sentences that Saunders and Bowman received.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Alaska State Troopers (AST), the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Office of Law Enforcement and Security, and the Alaska State Park Rangers conducted the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of this case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. Tansey.