Four members of a Texas family have been charged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain multiple Masters Golf Tournament tickets.
Stephen Michael Freeman, of Katy, Texas, is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft in an information filed with U.S. District Court in Augusta, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Freeman’s parents, Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman, of Helotes, Texas, and sister, Christine Oliverson, of San Antonio, Texas, each are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud.
The charges carry possible penalties of up to 20 years in prison along with substantial monetary fines. Any defendants charged are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to court documents, the four defendants used names and addresses from a purchased bulk mailing list to create multiple fraudulent accounts in the Augusta National Golf Club’s online ticket application system. All this occurred without the knowledge or permission of the individuals whose identities were used.
Then, if any of those names were chosen to receive Masters tickets and the defendants were notified via the email addresses provided for them, Stephen Michael Freeman would create fake identification documents to persuade the Augusta National to change the winner’s mailing address to one that was under control of the conspiracy. Once the defendants received the tickets at those addresses via U.S. Mail, they would then resell the tickets at a substantial profit.
“The Masters is one of the world’s great sporting events, and tickets to the tournament are cherished by their fortunate recipients,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “Using fraud and deceit to circumvent the Augusta National’s generous lottery system is despicable, and those who follow the rules in hopes of winning tickets deserve better than to have their chances diminished by profiteering con artists.”
“Because of the defendants’ greed, they now face substantial prison time if convicted of the alleged crimes,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will always make it a priority to investigate anyone who tries to circumvent a fair process, whether it is the Masters or any other private or public entity.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Lyons.