Alcoholic Beverage Rebate Scam Shut Down
Retired Ironwood Area School District Employee Convicted of Mail Fraud
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr., announced today the conviction and sentencing of Ms. Carol Rae Vitton, age 59, and a resident of Ironwood, Michigan, on charges of mail fraud.
Ms. Vitton, now a retired employee of the Ironwood Area School District with no prior criminal history, came to the attention of U.S. Postal Inspectors when employees at the Ironwood Post Office noticed that she was receiving an inordinate number of rebate checks through the mail, and that these checks were addressed to variants of Ms. Vitton’s name and address. Upon investigation, Postal Inspectors determined that Ms. Vitton picked up rebate coupons at liquor stores throughout the Ironwood area, and then manufactured counterfeit sales receipts that falsely and fraudulently indicated that she had made beer, wine and liquor purchases. She would then mail those counterfeit sales receipts along with the rebate applications to beer, wine and liquor companies, and associated rebate processing companies throughout the country.
During 2010 and 2011, Ms. Vitton manufactured and mailed more than 700 counterfeit sales receipts for beer, wine and liquor purchases that had not actually taken place. She was still an employee of the Ironwood Area School District at that time. Ms. Vitton received through the mail over $8,000 in the form of rebate payments that she was not entitled to receive. Inspectors discovered that some of these rebate checks were addressed to Ms. Vitton at the Ironwood Area School District Offices. At least 26 beer, wine, liquor and rebate processing companies were victimized and defrauded in this manner. Ms. Vitton’s rebate scheme constituted mail fraud, which is a felony violation of federal law and punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Ms. Vitton to: one year Probation, with four months of home detention; electronic monitoring while on home detention; restitution in the amount of $8,339.50; a $10,000.00 fine payable within 60 days and; a special assessment of $100.00.The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin, is tasked with enforcing the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use, and ensuring public trust in the mail. U.S. Postal Inspectors routinely investigate a variety of frauds that are perpetrated through the use of the mails. In recent years, Inspectors have seen an increasing number of rebate fraud schemes, like the scheme carried out by Ms. Vitton, throughout the country.