A Lexington couple conspired with a California man to facilitate fraudulent purchases of hundreds of smartphones, a federal grand jury has charged.
The grand jury indicted Michael and Julia Whiteside, of Lexington, and Marques Whiteside, of California, on several charges, including mail fraud.
Marques Whiteside had a company called Prestigious Trading Co. which dealt in cell phones, according to the indictment.
The indictment noted that carriers such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile typically sell phones at deep discounts to customers who sign extended contracts, losing money on the phones but coming out ahead on monthly data fees over the life of the contract.
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Michael and Julia Whiteside allegedly recruited people to buy phones at discounted prices under the pretense that they would keep them through the contract period, when in fact the people turned them over to members of the conspiracy to sell at higher prices.
The indictment listed three accomplices in the scheme, but only by their initials.
Michael Whiteside also bought phones he believed to have been stolen, the indictment said.
The Lexington couple shipped the phones to others, including Marques Whiteside, to sell, the indictment charged.
The three took part in the scheme between November 2011 and September 2003, the indictment said.
The various charges in the case carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison.
In addition, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of $12,000 from the three, as well as an unspecified amount of money in their bank accounts and a financial judgment of $71,500.