URBANA, Ill. – A Danville, Illinois, man, Jeffery T. Henson (also known by the alias, Matthew Burns), 44, was sentenced on February 7, 2022, to eight-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, to be followed by an aggregate three years of supervised release, for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering in both Central Illinois and the Chicago area.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce found that Henson had obtained high-paying jobs by using stolen identities to avoid his prospective employers learning of his long criminal history involving multiple prior convictions for theft and computer fraud. In addition to the sentence of imprisonment, Judge Bruce ordered Henson to pay restitution of $436,496 to a Danville employer and $2,047,424 to a Chicago-area employer.
According to court documents, in 2016, Henson pretended to be an online job recruiter to obtain the personal identifying information of a job seeker. He then used the stolen personal information to obtain a job in that person’s name as the Director of Accounting at a Schaumburg, Illinois, consulting firm. Once employed, Henson set up fraudulent companies with names similar to legitimate vendors of the consulting firm and used his position to forge company checks and direct them to his fraudulently created companies. Henson defrauded the firm of over $2 million before he fled the Chicago area and moved to Danville in 2018.
Also according to court documents, in 2018, Henson then stole the identity of an individual in Indiana with whom he made podcasts. Henson used the stolen identity to open up a fraudulent bank account and to obtain a job in that person’s name as the Comptroller of Watchfire Signs, LLC, in Danville, Illinois. As the Comptroller, Henson defrauded Watchfire by causing Watchfire’s legitimate payments for tax liabilities to be routed to the fraudulent bank account Henson had opened with the stolen identity. Henson also laundered some of the fraud money by purchasing a $50,000 cashier’s check, which he used to purchase a Mercedes-Benz for over $100,000. Watchfire discovered Henson’s scheme in November of 2019, when the victim of Henson’s identity theft contacted Watchfire after discovering that Henson was using his identity. By then, however, Henson had defrauded Watchfire of over $400,000.
Authorities arrested Henson on November 25, 2019, at a bank in Indianapolis, Indiana, when he attempted to access the fraudulent account he had set up. At the time, he was in possession of numerous stolen identity documents. Henson has remained in the custody of the United States Marshals Service since that time.
The case investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Danville Police Department. Supervisory Assistant United States Attorney Eugene L. Miller represented the government in the prosecution.