Miami couple charged in $3.3 million scheme to defraud Verizon Wireless


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Date: November 10, 2020


Pittsburgh, PA – A couple from Miami, Florida, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The two-count Indictment, returned on September 23, 2020, named Samuel T. Johnson, and Daphne Debrosse, as defendants.

According to the Indictment and information presented to the court, Johnson, Debrosse, and others conspired to defraud Verizon Wireless by fraudulently obtaining new, in-box cellular devices and reselling them on the illicit market. Through various means, Johnson was able to compromise existing Verizon accounts and charge the various devices to them. Johnson also created fraudulent accounts and charged devices to those as well. Afterwards, Johnson, Debrosse, and other others would retrieve the purloined devices from various Apple Stores and other third-party vendors, located throughout the United States. Johnson, Debrosse, and others would then resell them.

According to information presented in court, the conspiracy illegally obtained approximately 2,941 devices worth approximately $3,398,394.21. The devices were purchased in the names of various aliases. When law enforcement executed a search warrant at the apartment Johnson and Debrosse shared, they recovered currency totaling $619,184.00, which was seized. Law enforcement also initiated forfeiture proceedings against a 2019 Lamborghini Urus that Johnson had purchased on the grounds that it had been bought with illegal proceeds. The court also received information that Johnson and Debrosse conspired to commit money laundering by depositing the fraud proceeds into 13 different bank accounts. Between January 2017 and April 2019, a total of $813,227.59 was deposited into the accounts. Johnson used some this money to further the wire fraud conspiracy to pay for traveling expenses when he retrieved the illegally obtained cellular devices. The court received information that Johnson traveled to 21 different states during the conspiracy’s existence to obtain the phones.

At the conclusion of a detention hearing held on November 5, 2020, Chief United States Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan in the Southern District of Florida ruled that Johnson was to be detained pending trial on the grounds that he constituted a flight risk

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $6,796,788.00 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of Verizon Global Corporate Security Solutions and Apple Global Security Loss Prevention, conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael Leo Ivory is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.