DALLAS (CN) – Three men were sentenced to long prison terms for a brazen cybercrime scam that put homeless people nominally in charge of shell companies that ripped off telecommunications, insurance and power companies for more than $20 million, federal prosecutors said.
Matthew Norman Simpson, 26, of Red Oak, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $17.6 million in restitution. He was convicted in December of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, email fraud, obstruction through destruction of evidence and false registration of a domain name. The court said he also committed perjury.
Michael Blaine Faulkner, of Southlake, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $18.2 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and obstruction through hiding assets. His wife, Chasity Lynn Faulkner, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. She will be sentenced on Friday.
Nathan Todd Shafer, 32, of Irving, was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.3 million in restitution. He was convicted in December of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.
Prosecutors said the conspirators lied to several companies to get computer and telecommunications equipment, generators, and office space and services for the equipment.
Victims include AT&T, Verizon, XO Communications, Excel Communications, Waymark Communications, Bandwidth.com, and CommPartners, landlords of three buildings in Dallas, leasing companies and creditors, including Wells Fargo and AT&T Capital Services, credit reporting agencies, power companies, insurance companies, air-conditioning companies and website developers.
“The conspirators created, purchased and used shell companies to hide the true identity of the owners or operators of the companies, or the relationships between the companies,” prosecutors said in a statement. “The conspirators paid persons including homeless persons for the use of their identities to ‘act’ as the officers, directors or managers of the shell companies. They also used P.O. boxes, commercial remailer services, shell offices, apartments or other physical locations to hide owners’ or operators’ identities or the relationships between the companies.”
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater called the fraud “a massive, complicated, multiyear scheme to defraud a large number of victims.”
He noted that Simpson had “used his intelligence and talents to engage in deleterious criminal conduct,” and said that Simpson “never accepted responsibility for his actions or expressed remorse,” and was still a threat and would continue his criminal activity, having no respect for the law.
Nineteen defendants were charged in the scam. Prosecutors said two remain fugitives and are believed to be outside of the country. Two were acquitted at trial. All the others have pleaded guilty; five of them have been sentenced.