Local Woman Sentenced in Cell Phone Fraud Scheme
HOUSTON – A 47-year-old Houston woman has been ordered to pay more than $2 million following her conviction of mail fraud in relation to seven-year cell phone fraud scheme, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. Renee Heyd pleaded guilty Nov. 28, 2016.
Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt handed Heyd a 27-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to pay $2,630,522 in restitution.
Heyd admitted she fraudulently obtained iPhones and other smartphones on her employer’s AT&T account and then mailed them to a reseller who paid her $300 to $500 per phone.
From 2009 through 2015, Heyd was employed at a Houston-based seismic equipment company where she was in charge of ordering cell phones and data lines for the company’s employees. During this time, Heyd initiated two-year contracts on the company’s AT&T account for new or existing phone lines to obtain new iPhones and other smartphones at discounted prices. She then registered the phones with fictitious names and caused the new contracts to be suspended in order to reduce the monthly service fee from an active line to a suspended line.
Heyd disguised the charges by manually altering the detail of the AT&T charges prior to review and approval by the company’s management. Between February 2009 and continuing through Oct. 15, 2015, Heyd sent 236 Federal Express shipments containing the fraudulently-obtained phones from the company in Houston to a reseller in New York. The reseller paid Heyd $300 to $500 per phone via PayPal and/or wire transfers.
Previously released on bond, Heyd was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Belinda Beek is prosecuting the case.