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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 22, 2016

Inmate Sentenced for Operating a Fake Jury Duty Money Laundering Scheme from Georgia State Prison

ATLANTA - Autry State Prison inmate Reginald Perkins has been sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison for laundering $1 million in fraud proceeds arising from a “jury duty” telemarketing scam conducted by inmates at Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) prisons.

“Prisons should be the one place where we have confidence that multi-million-dollar telemarketing schemes are not being conducted,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn.  “Cases like this show how much needs to be done to make sure that those who are convicted and sentenced to prison are not still victimizing citizens from behind bars.  We are working with state and federal law enforcement to eradicate the illegal use of cell phones and fraud in our Georgia state prisons, and will continue to prosecute offenders, whether they are in or out of prison.”

“This case showcases the criminal possibilities available to inmates with cell phones/smart phones and, with today’s sentencing of Mr. Perkins, it also illustrates the punishment available to those inmates who obtain and use them.  The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners in not only addressing these types of inmate based crimes but also in preventing inmates access to these cell phones that provide the means to do so much harm to the unsuspecting public,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Perkins laundered fraud proceeds while incarcerated at Jimmy Autry State Prison in Pelham, Georgia, which is a Georgia Department of Corrections medium security prison and houses approximately 1,700 adult male inmates. 

While Perkins was serving his sentence at Autry, inmates regularly obtained cellular telephones. For example, from 2014 to 2015, officials seized more than 23,500 cellular telephones from inside Georgia state prisons. Many of the seized cellular telephones possessed Internet capabilities and the latest smartphone features. The possession of cellular telephones by inmates creates a significant risk to prison security and to public safety, as inmates used contraband cellular telephones to commit various criminal acts while incarcerated. 

Inmates used contraband cellular telephones from inside Autry to access Internet websites to identify the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of potential fraud victims. Using the cellular telephones, inmates called the victims whose names and numbers had been obtained. During these calls, the inmates made certain false representations to the victims, including: (a) that the inmates were law enforcement officials; (b) that the victims had unlawfully failed to appear for jury duty; (c) that because the victims had failed to appear for jury duty, warrants had been issued for the victims’ arrest; and (d) that the victims had a choice of being arrested on the warrants or pay fines to have the arrest warrants dismissed. To make the calls seem real, the inmates created fictitious voicemail greetings on their contraband cellular telephones, identifying themselves as members of legitimate law enforcement agencies.

For those victims who wanted to pay a fine, the inmates instructed them to purchase pre-paid cash cards and provide the account number of the cash card or wire money directly into a pre-paid debit card account held by the inmates. Based on these false representations, the victims electronically transferred money to the inmates because they believed that the funds would be used to pay the fine for failing to appear for jury duty and would result in the dismissal of the arrest warrant.

Perkins admitted that he would take the account number of the pre-paid cash card and contacted his co-conspirators, who were not incarcerated, to have those individuals transfer the money from the cash card purchased by the victims to a pre-paid debit card possessed by the co-conspirators. Next, the co-conspirators withdrew the victim’s money, which had been transferred to the pre-paid debit card they controlled, via an automated teller machine or at a retail store. Typically, the co-conspirators then laundered the stolen money by purchasing a new cash card so that the victims’ funds could be transferred back to the inmates. Perkins worked with about 100 individuals outside of the prison and laundered approximately $1 million in proceeds from fraud and other illegal schemes.

Reginald Perkins, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia, has been sentenced to 12 years, seven months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Perkins was convicted on these charges on March 22, 2016, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Huber prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic: 
Financial Fraud
Updated August 22, 2016