Officials: Family of 'profiteering con artists' concocted a identity theft scheme to game the Masters Tournament ticket system

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Monday, April 22, 2019

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A Texas family of four stands charged with conspiracy and identity theft in a scheme, according to the U.S Attorney's Office, designed to fraudulently obtain Masters Tournament tickets.

The conspiracy was revealed Monday via a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office that charged Stephen Michael Freeman with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Steven Lee Freeman, Diane Freeman, and Christine Oliverson -- Stephen's parents and sister have also been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

The U.S Attorney's Office says the family 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.

If any of those identities were chosen to receive tickets, the U.S. Attorney's Office says, Stephen would then 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 statement said.

“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 charges carry possible penalties of up to 20 years in prison or a fine.

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