Federal Jury Finds Albuquerque Couple Guilty on Wire Fraud Charges Arising Out of Scheme to Defraud Office Supply Business
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., returned a verdict late this afternoon finding an Albuquerque couple guilty on wire fraud charges after a seven-day trial. Matthew Channon, 38, and his wife Brandi Channon, 35, were convicted on a conspiracy charge and six wire fraud charges arising out of a sophisticated scheme to defraud an office supply business out of more than $100,000.
In announcing the jury’s guilty verdict, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said, “These individuals stole money and property, using computers and e-mail as tools of their trade. This conviction shows the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to the investigation and prosecution of theft, whether electronic or at the point of a gun.”
“Criminals who cheat companies wind up costing hard-working families more at the cash register,” said Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division. “I am proud of the FBI Special Agents and support staff who investigated this case, and I congratulate the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a successful prosecution.”
The indictment charged the Channons with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Matthew Channon with four counts of wire fraud, and Brandi Channon with two counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleged that the Channons perpetuated a scheme to defraud OfficeMax by using interstate wire communications to create numerous MaxPerk Rewards accounts in fictitious names to avoid OfficeMax’s policy of issuing only one account per person. The Channons then used the accounts to fraudulently claim rewards from OfficeMax to which they were not entitled. According to the indictment, the scheme continued from Aug. 2009 through June 2011, during which time the Channons fraudulently obtained MaxPerk Rewards certificates valued at more than $105,000.00.
Trial of the Channons commenced on Jan. 13, 2016, and concluded late this afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict on all seven counts of the indictment. The evidence at trial established that the Channons conspired to defraud OfficeMax by fraudulently creating more than 5000 MaxPerk Rewards accounts in the names of fictitious people. The couple went online and used the fraudulent accounts to falsely claim rewards-program credit for purchases that other customers had in fact made. The Channons falsely claimed that they engaged in more than 60,000 transactions with OfficeMax involving almost $2,000,000.00 worth of purchases, in over 300 stores located in over 20 states. As a result of their fraudulent conduct, the Channons defrauded OfficeMax of more than $100,000 worth of property.
At sentencing, the Channons face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. Their sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret M. Vierbuchen, Holland S. Kastrin and C. Paige Messec.