Guilty plea in online vehicle scheme

 

Date: October 15, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Damien L. Range of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, Range participated in and helped manage a scheme to defraud online marketplace customers via fraudulent postings for vehicle sales. Participants in the scheme created fictitious postings for vehicles and posed as employees of eBay when communicating with victims. Victims were instructed to wire funds to various third-party bank accounts, established on behalf of shell corporations with names that Range and others selected to appear to be affiliated with eBay's Buyer Protection Program, when, in fact, no such relationship existed.

Range opened multiple bank accounts using the name of shell corporations that he established or were established on his behalf including "Excellent Fast Sales LLC" and "Extremely Fast Suppliers LLC." The bank accounts received interstate wires from approximately 29 victims who believed they were sending funds to eBay to be held for their alleged vehicle purchases, totaling $406,700.74 in fraud loss. In addition, Range oversaw dozens of third-party bank accounts that received approximately 71 wires from victims totaling $1,241,440.00. The total amount of loss attributable to Range's fraudulent conduct was $1,648,140.75.

At Range's direction, victim funds were then promptly withdrawn from third-party bank accounts in cash and turned over to Range and other conspirators; transferred to accounts controlled by Range and other conspirators; or used to purchase Bitcoins controlled by Range and others. Range received a portion of these proceeds as payment for his involvement and management in the scheme.

"Damien Range and others conducted hundreds of transactions, including the purchase of Bitcoins, to launder proceeds taken from the victims of the scheme," said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Cincinnati Field Office. "The purpose of these transactions was to conceal their illegal activities."

"Range helped manage a sophisticated online scheme, pretending to be an employee of eBay and posting fake car sales, in order to defraud victims and launder illegal proceeds," U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. "He caused more than $1.6 million in fraud loss."

Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, announced the plea entered before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Noah Littleton and was investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, United States Secret Service, and United States Postal Inspector.