Man sentenced for fraud scheme

Published 6:47 pm Friday, December 11, 2020

A New York man who formerly resided in Newport News was sentenced Dec. 11 to three years in prison for a mail fraud and identity theft scheme that targeted residents in Isle of Wight, Southampton and Sussex counties.

According to court documents, Christopher A. Phillips, 25, stole mail from unwitting victims and used personal information from that mail to open new bank accounts and lines of credit in their name. He next used mail-tracking services and techniques such as following mail routes to ensure he retrieved the new means of account access before the victims, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.

Phillips then repeatedly purchased goods and services using the accounts he had opened in the victims’ names, resulting in a total loss of approximately $35,000.

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As a result of Phillips’ scheme, investigators identified at least 12 victims of identity theft across Isle of Wight, Southampton, and Sussex counties. At the time of his arrest, investigators recovered significant quantities of stolen mail and electronic devices with more suspected victims.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Isle of Wight County Sheriff James R. Clarke Jr.; Southampton County Sheriff Josh Wyche Sr.; and Sussex County Sheriff Earnest L. Giles, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.

Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Mack Coleman prosecuted the case.