Four individuals from one family in Texas have been charged in a scheme to purchase tickets the Masters Tournament in Georgia and then resell the pricey passes on the resale market, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Stephen Michael Freeman of Katy, TX is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. His parents, Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman, and his sister, Christine Oliverson, are each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“The Masters is one of the world’s great sporting events, and tickets to the tournament are cherished by their fortunate recipients,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “Using fraud and deceit to circumvent the Augusta National’s generous lottery system is despicable, and those who follow the rules in hopes of winning tickets deserve better than to have their chances diminished by profiteering con artists.”
Charging documents indicate the family purchased a bulk mailing list including names and addresses, then used those to create accounts and request tickets through Augusta National’s online ticket application system, without the knowledge of the individuals whose names and addresses were being used in the ruse. Any accounts chosen to receive tickets to the popular golf tournament led to Stephen Michael Freeman creating fake documents for the identity and changing the ship-to address for the tickets.
“Because of the defendants’ greed, they now face substantial prison time if convicted of the alleged crimes,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will always make it a priority to investigate anyone who tries to circumvent a fair process, whether it is the Masters or any other private or public entity.”
The charges the family faces carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison as well as fines. USA Today reports that the span of the scheme ran from 2013 to 2017.
According to sales data from TicketClub.com, resale prices for the tournament sold at well in excess of the face value as Tiger Woods rallied for his first major championship since 2008 and his first green jacket since 2005. Four-day competition passes sold for an average of over $5,500 per pass, with single-day passes ranging between $1-3,000 on average.
There is no indication in the documents exactly how many passes the family were alleged to have received in the scheme.