North Georgia man sentenced for running $3M fraud scheme from prison cell

Damon Thomas Young was sentenced to seven years in prison after he was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in August while he was serving a 20-year sentence.

Credit: File Photo

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Damon Thomas Young was sentenced to seven years in prison after he was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in August while he was serving a 20-year sentence.

Credit: File Photo

While serving a 20-year prison sentence, a North Georgia man used an alias and attempted to defraud heavy equipment dealers out of construction machinery worth millions of dollars. After pleading guilty in August, he will serve another seven years behind bars.

Damon Thomas Young, 39, of Ranger, started his sentence at Hays State Prison in Trion in September 2010 for aggravated assault on a police officer and violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. About nine years into his sentence, Young began his fraud scheme and became known to his victims as Morgan Sylvia, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $30,000 to the online purchaser of the stolen equipment after he was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

“Young schemed to steal millions of dollars worth of heavy equipment while serving a sentence for assaulting a police officer,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said. “Inmates should not think that the crimes they commit from prison will go unpunished just because they are already incarcerated. As in this case, inmates who commit crimes from behind bars face additional federal prison time to be served after their state sentences end.”

The charges stem from incidents in 2019 when Young used a contraband phone to defraud, or attempt to defraud, multiple heavy equipment dealers out of machinery worth more than $2.8 million, the release states.

“The use of contraband cellphones by inmates as a tool to continue carrying out crimes from behind the walls of our facilities will not be tolerated,” Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy C. Ward said.

Using the alias and pretending to be a purchasing officer with the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, Young ordered equipment and had it delivered to Ranger in Gordon County, where his family lived, according to the release.

Young contacted six dealers via phone, text and email, and emailed them credit applications, purchase orders, sales contracts and insurance documents as part of the scheme, the news release said. He also emailed a fraudulent AbbVie corporate resolution document and forged the signatures of the company’s corporate officers.

Most equipment dealers caught on to the fraud before shipping the machinery, but Young was able to acquire four pieces of equipment that were worth more than $500,000, the news release said. He would then put the equipment up for sale on Craigslist and used the profit to buy two Chevrolet work trucks.

The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office has since recovered all of the stolen equipment.

“We are very pleased that this matter has been brought to a successful conclusion through the combined efforts of our partners in state and federal government, and ourselves,” Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston said. “This was a massive and complex investigation that required the best efforts of all the officers, agents and prosecutors assigned to the case. My congratulations to each investigative agency and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for all of their hard work.”

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