Wire fraud conviction lands New York man in prison for 5 years
KEARNEY, Neb. -- Five years in prison was given to a New York man after he was convicted for wire fraud and identity theft of a person from Kearney.
U.S. Attorney Steven Russell said 34-year-old Felix Pena, of New York, was sentenced in Omaha on Friday. He was convicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Pena will serve 60 months in prison with a three-year term of supervised release after. There is no parole in the federal system. Pena also has to pay $404,069 in restitution.
According to court documents, Pena, along with others, conspired and agreed to make up a scheme to defraud Verizon Wireless in 2017. Members of the conspiracy got stolen identities of real U.S. citizens, including at least three people from Nebraska.
Officials said the conspiracy members would use the victims’ information to make Verizon accounts. Once accounts were created, they would buy cellphones and accessories that would be billed to the accounts, causing financial loss to Verizon and potential credit damage to the people whose identity was used.
Authorities said the phones would then be shipped back to New York or New Jersey where they would be sold on the black market. Two of the conspirators were arrested after trying to buy cellphones with the stolen identity of a Kearney resident in February 2019.
According to court documents, Pena’s main role in the conspiracy was to run credit reports for the stolen identities so they could determine the credit worthiness of the victim whose identity was being used to open a Verizon account. Pena would also give money to the other members of the conspiracy for their roles in the conspiracy. Pursuant to the scheme, Verizon Wireless suffered a loss of $528,002.33.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kearney Police Department.