Convicted Craigslist Fraudster Who Was on the Lam for Four Years is Sentenced to 84 Months in Federal Prison
DALLAS — Phillip Sean Anthony, 32, of Grand Prairie, Texas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade to 84 months (seven years) in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution to his victims. The sentencing follows Anthony’s guilty plea in June 2015 to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Anthony was indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas in March 2011 on five counts of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft stemming from an identity theft scheme he ran from approximately mid-June 2008 to early December 2009 using Craigslist. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in plea papers that were filed in October 2011, but he failed to appear in court as ordered for his rearraignment on October 25, 2011.
Approximately four years later, Anthony was located in Irving, Texas, after absconding to California for three years. In February 2015, the government filed a motion for detention which was granted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney, who found that Anthony had violated the terms of his pretrial release. Judge Stickney further found that Anthony had been committing new crimes continuously since absconding in 2011 and had used more than 30 different names, which were stolen identities, had stolen more than $200,000 from his victims, and then after stealing the identities, sold them to others for additional money
According to plea documents, Anthony admitted that he placed dozens of false job postings on Craigslist for “customer service representative” and “reservation agent” positons with various airlines. He placed the ads on the local Craigslist site where the airline was based, including ads in Chicago for United Airlines; Orlando, Florida, for Air Tran Airways; and in New York City for JetBlue Airways. When contacted by prospective applicants, Anthony claimed to be a representative of the respective airline-employer. He explained the application process and then forwarded each applicant a job application that was on the respective company’s letterhead and appeared authentic.
Anthony admitted that he used the information that prospective applicants put on the applications he received, such as name, address, date of birth and Social Security number, to open accounts with various online wireless service and device providers, such as LetsTalk.com, Simplexity.com and Wirefly.com. He also purchased activated smartphones from these online retailers using these identities stolen from the job applications.
Anthony also purchased prepaid debit cards and registered them in the names of the stolen identities after loading a nominal amount of funds onto each card. He then used these debit cards to reserve hotel rooms throughout the country in the names of the stolen identities. He provided these hotel addresses as the residential address to the online phone retailer and instructed them to send the smartphones to that address. Once the phones were shipped, Anthony would call the hotel and cancel the reservation, explaining to the hotel representative that he was expecting a package and to forward it to his office in Irving. Anthony then sold the fraudulently-obtained phones for a fraction of their value.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce prosecuted.
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