April 23, 2019
KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
By Katrina Katsarelis
The U.S. Attorney's Office has charged Stephen Michael Freeman of Katy, in connection with a four-year scheme to fraudulently obtain tickets to the Masters Tournament, one of the four main championships in professional golf.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia, Stephen Michael Freeman has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a scheme to fraudulently obtain tickets to the Masters Tournament between the years of 2013 and 2017. His parents, Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman, of Helotes, Texas, and his sister, Christine Oliverson, of San Antonio, are each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Using Purchased Identities
According to court documents, the family obtained names and addresses from a purchased bulk mailing list that was used to create fraudulent accounts using other people's identities. The identities were submitted to the Augusta National Golf Club’s online ticket application system without the knowledge or permission of those whose identities were used, according to officials.
Forged False Documents
If any of those stolen identities were chosen to receive Masters tickets, the defendants were notified via the email address connected to the applications, created by the suspects. After being notified, the family would then ask Augusta National to change the addresses associated with the bogus accounts. They used false driver's licenses, utility bills, and credit card statements to validate the identity of the fake user accounts. These falsified documents were sent by mail, the court documents said. Once the defendants were mailed the tickets, they would resell the tickets at a substantial profit, the release states.
Statement from the US District Attorney
“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.”
Christine said the charges carry potential penalties of up to 20 years in prison, as well as substantial fines.