Houston Man Convicted In Million Dollar Fraud Scheme Targeting Dozens Of Elderly Victims
HOUSTON – Michael Irving, 33, has entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Nov. 30, 2013, Irving engaged in a wire fraud conspiracy to unlawfully obtain cash and defraud Compass Bank, a FDIC insured institution. Irving and his co-conspirators unlawfully obtained, shared and busted out multiple credit cards for cash and shared the proceeds with each other.
Irving owned and operated Majix Studio - a business used in the conspiracy - and had a PayPal account for it. Irving would swipe, and authorize his co-conspirators to swipe, fraudulently obtained credit cards through his business terminal using credit card processors PayPal had provided. After the cards were swiped, the funds were deposited into bank accounts or onto debit cards under the care, custody and control of Irving and his co-conspirators.
Irving admitted to processing multiple illegitimate transactions through his business during the course of the conspiracy.
Irving knew the credit cards were fraudulent because they had been applied for and obtained through the use of stolen identities. There were at least 70 victims whose identities had been stolen, all senior citizens between the ages of 70 and 95, living throughout the country.
Irving also knew the transactions going through his processors were illegitimate as there was no exchange of goods for services. Typically, the conspirators ran the fraudulently obtained credit cards for $1,000 to $5,000 until they reached their limits. When necessary, Irving and his co-conspirators would fabricate and submit false information, receipts, invoices and other documentation to PayPal regarding the fraudulent transactions to further facilitate the fraud.
In total, the co-conspirators stole approximately $1.1 during the conspiracy.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, who accepted the guilty plea today, has set sentencing for May 18, 2015. At that time, Irving faces up to 30 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine for the conspiracy as well as a mandatory 24-month for the identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
Co-conspirator Raymond Goffney, 38, also of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. He faces the same penalties and will be sentenced April 27, 2015.
Both were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Searle is prosecuting the case.