BUFFALO – A Conewango Valley man was sentenced to time served (nine months) and five years supervised release by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo after previously being convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Lamarque, Wei Xiang, and Mary Clare Kane, who handled the case, stated that between February 2016 and October 2016, Mark Farnham, 26, of Conewango Valley, worked with co-defendants Sergiy Bezrukov, Dustin Walker, and Vanessa Cardona at companies with various names such as “Corporate Restructure” and “Salamanca Payroll Services.” Farnham was a manager for Corporate Restructure, Inc., which operated out of office space in Salamanca and Buffalo.
Farnham, Bezrukov, Walker, and Cardona, along with others, used a number of fraudulent companies to mail solicitations to small business owners (victims) which fraudulently informed the victims that one or more of the fraudulent companies could assist the victims with restructuring debts they had with other lenders.
From the summer of 2016 until Oct. 27, 2016, the defendant: opened multiple bank accounts at a number of banks, including Citizens Bank, Bank of America, Northwest Savings Bank and First Niagara Bank; made daily deposits into the bank accounts opened at the aforementioned banks; made daily withdrawals from the bank accounts at the aforementioned banks; obtained a bulk mailing permit and opened post office boxes which were used to receive victims mail and to use as the return addresses on solicitation letters; and took calls from victims who were upset and had questions about their “loan restructure.”
When talking with victims over the telephone, Farnham used aliases and provided the victims with information that was not true or accurate about the status of the purported loan restructure. Farnham continued to deposit victims’ monies into the account of shell companies that never provided any services, and withdrew the deposited money from those accounts.
Bezrukov, Walker, and Cardona were all previously convicted and are awaiting sentencing.
Today’s sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, New York Field Office; and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.