A Buffalo man who organized a telephone scam that defrauded people of more than $340,000 has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Shawn Sylvia, 35, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara and faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced April 3.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti, who is prosecuting the case, said in a news release that Sylvia and his co-conspirators took money from at least eight victims by calling on the phone and posing as representatives of various collection agencies.
They would threaten the victims with arrest and lawsuits if they didn't make payments via MoneyGram or Western Union on the supposedly outstanding debts. The ruse was sophisticated enough that the conspirators could accept credit card payments through fake merchant accounts. Between May 2013 and August 2017, Sylvia and his associates fraudulently obtained a total of $342,303 according to prosecutors.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.