‘Serial Fraudster’ Sentenced to 61 Months in Prison for Latest Round of Scams Aimed at Internet and Shipping Businesses
Used Internet Payment Processors for Modern-Day Check Kiting Scheme
A Seattle man sentenced for mail fraud and wire fraud in 2009, changed his name and committed a new round of frauds resulting today in a 61 month federal prison sentence, three years of supervised release and restitution in the amount of $349,164, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. EDWARD BUI, 48, aka Micah Buitron pleaded guilty in August 2017 to mail fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. BUI defrauded shipping and internet payment companies of $349,164. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones noted at the sentencing hearing that he had previously sentenced BUI to two years in prison for his 2009 conviction. At today’s hearing Judge Jones said that Bui “shows complete disregard of the Court, the law and the criminal justice system . . . and callous disregard of damage to businesses and individuals. (He) essentially had the mantra ‘catch me if you can.’”
According to records filed in the case, less than a year after his release from federal custody, BUI began putting pieces of his most recent fraud together. He created a company, Operture, Inc., that was at the center of his mail and wire fraud schemes. BUI created multiple accounts with UPS and online payment processing companies using false names, email addresses, physical addresses and bank accounts. He mailed multiple packages using his UPS accounts to addresses in Nevada and then filed more than 260 claims alleging damage to the packages. He was able to defraud UPS of $31,200.
BUI defrauded online payment processing companies by posing as both the buyer and seller of goods and then claiming refunds. When the payment processor tried to get the ‘refunded’ money back from the supposed seller, the account had been drained leaving the payment processor with a loss. BUI engaged in what is essentially a check kiting scheme using online payment processers. With this scheme he defrauded Google Wallet, Stripe and buy.com of nearly $318,000.
BUI used the identity of a person he knew to conduct some of the fraud. For that conduct, he pled guilty to aggravated identity theft which carries a two year sentence that runs consecutive to any other sentence imposed for the other charges.
BUI used the proceeds of his scheme to invest in real estate in Las Vegas. Some of his investments took advantage of a loophole in Nevada law which allowed him to purchase properties for the outstanding homeowners association payments. In this way BUI was able to buy and flip properties as the real estate market recovered, and ultimately purchased a property worth more than $1 million. The property will be forfeited to the government and its sale will be used to pay off BUI’s victims from this fraud case as well as the fraud case from 2009.
In the 2009 case, BUI fraudulently used the credit card and personal information of more than 60 people and defrauded some 68 businesses. BUI used some 20 aliases to purchase everything from remodeling supplies to expensive home furnishings. BUI used some of the materials to remodel the four properties he owned. Some of the items he resold through his businesses or on other web sites. In all, the fraud or attempted fraud totaled $350,000. BUI also double and triple billed some of his customers for items they purchased from his web site, filed false damage claims with shippers and false claims with his own credit card company.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and the Seattle Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.