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Group ran Metro East cellphone buying scam for years, feds say

Group ran Metro East cellphone buying scam for years, feds say

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EAST ST. LOUIS — Four people, including a former Sprint employee, have been indicted in federal court and accused of running a yearslong scam to obtain Sprint cellphones with fake names and then re-sell the phones, costing the company $216,000.

From October 2015 to May 2018, the group set up accounts with Sprint using the names and personal information of others and obtained up to four cellphones at a time, according to their indictment. They paid mandatory activation fees and taxes in cash, then sold the phones, making hundreds of dollars per phone, the indictment reads.

Tamecia C. Buckley, who pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated ID theft and credit card fraud, set up the accounts, using names and Social Security numbers she’d obtained, prosecutors say. If Sprint required more verification to activate the account, Buckley tapped for help Michael Henderson, who worked in a Belleville Sprint store. Henderson would then provide her with special Sprint verification codes, the indictment says.

Buckley would go to the stores herself, or send Kyetia M. Hines, Antoinette Z. Davis or Jasmine Davison to pick up phones, the indictment says.

Buckley’s actions cost Sprint $216,000, prosecutors said. She repeated the scheme at Best Buy, costing them $25,000, they said.

Henderson and Davis pleaded not guilty Thursday. Hines is scheduled to plead not guilty Sept. 10. No hearing has been set for Davison. No lawyers are listed for them in online court records.

Hines is serving a two-year federal prison sentence for a similar fraud involving the purchase of vehicles. Buckley has also been implicated in that scam, court records show.

Buckley is scheduled to be sentenced in October for the cellphone and car cases, as well as a similar scam she used to open Ameren accounts using the names of others that cost the company nearly $6,000.

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