COLUMBUS, Ohio – The leader of an online car sales scam that cheated hundreds of victims around the country out of more than $10.6 million total was sentenced in federal court today to 170 months in prison.
Terry J. Boutwell, 38, of Columbus, and others, pretended to part of an eBay program in order steal money through fake car sales.
Boutwell pleaded guilty in July 2019 to conspiring to commit money laundering. As part of his sentencing, he is ordered to pay $10,639,225.91 in restitution.
Court documents outline that Boutwell and others operated the scheme from 2015 until October 2018. He and the other co-conspirators were part of a network that attracted online customers through fraudulent postings for vehicle sales.
Defendants communicated with victims through email and phone, posing as employees of eBay, and used third parties to open bank accounts in the names of shell corporations that appeared to be affiliated with eBay. They instructed victims to wire funds to various third-party bank accounts they set up. They claimed to be affiliated with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program, when in fact, no such relationship existed.
Accounts in Boutwell’s control received more than $10.6 million from more than 850 victims around the country.
“Boutwell and his co-conspirators may have been dedicated to carrying out this sophisticated scheme, but our law enforcement partners on all levels throughout the country were just as dedicated to getting justice for the hundreds of victims who lost hard-earned money to this criminal conspiracy,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel. “Now, through restitution, we hope to get that money back to them. In the meantime, Boutwell will be serving a lengthy stay in federal prison.”
“This case serves as an unfortunate reminder that scammers will find new and sinister ways to relieve you of your hard-earned dollars,” Patel added. “Any attempt to communicate or make payment outside of an online merchant’s existing system should be met with extreme skepticism and caution.”
Two co-conspirators have also been sentenced in this case. Tiffany A. Strobl, 41, of Columbus, was sentenced to five months in prison and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution. Shalitha R. Schexnayder, 41, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced to six months of home confinement as part of five years of federal probation.
Vipal J. Patel, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Edmund A Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorney Noah Litton is representing the United States in this case.
Acting U.S. Attorney Patel recognized the assistance of United States Secret Service in Toledo, Ohio and Miami, Florida; the FBI’s Baltimore field office; United States Postal Inspection Service in Detroit; New York State Police; the Canton, Ohio, Butler Village, Ohio, Mayfield Heights, Ohio, Bloomfield Township, Michigan, Marlboro Township, New Jersey and Janesville, Wisconsin police departments; and the Walworth County, Wisconsin and Clarke County, Alabama sheriff’s offices.
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