COLUMBUS, Ohio – The leader of an online car sales scam that cheated hundreds of victims around the country pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today and agreed to pay restitution of $9,262,238.90.
Terry J. Boutwell, 36, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, announced the plea entered before Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.
Two co-conspirators, Tiffany A. Strobl, 39, of Columbus, Ohio, and Shalitha R. Schexnayder, 39, of Miami, Fla., have also entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing.
Court documents outline the scheme which began in 2015 and continued until the three were indicted in October 2018. The defendants were part of a network that attracted online customers through fraudulent postings for vehicle sales. They communicated with victims through email and telephone posing as employees of eBay, and used third parties to open bank accounts in the names of shell corporations that appeared to be affiliated with eBay. They instructed victims to wire funds to various third-party bank accounts they set up. They claimed to be affiliated with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program, when in fact, no such relationship existed.
“The accounts he controlled received more than $9 million from more than 800 victims around the country,” Glassman said. “Our efforts now will focus on doing as much as we can to collect the restitution and help the victims as the investigation continues.”
“The sophistication and brazenness of the defendant’s on-line car sales scam created havoc on innocent victims and deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said William Cheung, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
Boutwell was arrested in January when the indictment was announced. Judge Sargus ordered him to remain in custody. The crime is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine not to exceed $500,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and applicable federal statutes. The court will determine a date to sentence Boutwell and the others.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS Criminal Investigation and the assistance of United States Secret Service in Toledo, Ohio and Miami, Fla.; the FBI’s Baltimore field office; United States Postal Inspection Service in Detroit; New York State Police; the Canton, Ohio, Butler Village, Ohio, Mayfield Heights, Ohio, Bloomfield Township, Mich., Marlboro Township, New Jersey and Janesville, Wis. police departments; and the Walworth County, Wis. and Clarke County, Ala. sheriff’s offices. Assistant United States Attorney Noah Litton is representing the United States in this case.
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