Altoona man sentenced in $1.2 million fraud scheme

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WTAJ) – An Altoona mas was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in federal court to charges of tax evasion and wire fraud.

Patrick S. LaMarsh, 42, of Altoona, was sentenced to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release by US District Judge Cathy Bissoon, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced.

According to Kaufman, between 2011 and 2013, LaMarsh defrauded TracFone and Walmart by selling fraudulently obtained Straight Talk airtime cards on Amazon.com. LaMarsh fraudulently re-encoded Straight Talk prepaid wireless cards and sold them for a discount, netting approximately $1.2 million in proceeds.

LaMarsh used the proceeds to buy precious metals and a recreational vehicle. In addition, LaMarsh deposited proceeds into nominee bank accounts to conceal income.

“As laid out in the U.S. Attorney’s presentence report, Mr. Lamarsh ‘conceived a devious scheme to defraud’ TracFone and its customers. Over the last 15 years, TracFone has filed nearly 100 federal civil lawsuits – including against Mr. LaMarsh and his businesses – targeting similar conduct in many jurisdictions. In those civil cases, courts have now entered more than 80 permanent injunctions in TracFone’s favor and have also entered judgments totaling more than $335 million against alleged various defendants.  The government’s pursuit of this case against Mr. LaMarsh shows that some of the misconduct at issue in these civil case also has a criminal component – and the federal government will be watching, as well.” Aaron Weiss of Carlton Fields P.A., an attorney for TracFone, the victim in this case, told the station by email on Thursday.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci prosecuted this case on behalf of the
government. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and United States Secret Service
conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of LaMarsh.

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