Texas family pleads guilty to fraud charges over 'elaborate' Masters ticket scam

Masters tickets, already the most sought-after tickets in golf, proved to be especially costly for one Texas family.

Four members of a family in Texas pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges after admitting to taking part in an “elaborate” scheme to fraudulently obtain Masters tickets and resell them at a hefty profit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced Monday.

Stephen Michael Freeman of Katy, Texas agreed to a sentence of 36 months in federal prison and $157,493.70 in community restitution. His parents, Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman, also agreed to pay $59,000 each in community restitution and will be subject to sentencing by the court, as will his sister Christine Oliverson.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge that all four pleaded guilty to carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

How the Freeman family ripped off the Masters and its fans

Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s release, the Freemans admitted in court that they purchased a bulk list and used its names addresses to create several fake accounts in the August National Golf Club’s online ticket system, essentially a lottery for Masters tickets. None of the individuals whose identities were used knew of the scheme.

When any of those fake accounts were awarded tickets, Stephen Freeman, or someone acting on his behalf, would create fake IDs — drivers licenses, utility bills and credit card statements — to convince Augusta to change the winning mailing address to one that his family controlled.

A few months later, the tickets would arrive and the family would resell them at the breathtaking markup the Masters’ secondary ticket market is known for. Just this year, single-day passes were being sold for as much as $7,850 and Ticketmaster had a four-day pass on sale for $14,000.

“This scheme was designed to profit from the resale of tickets, but in the process, it also would have denied legitimate citizens a fair chance to obtain tickets to a prestigious golf tournament,” FBI agent Chris Hacker said in the statement. “We hope that this case sends a message that the FBI will make it a priority to investigate these cases, and if you get caught, you will pay the price.”

16 PHOTOS
Scenes from the 2019 Masters
See Gallery
Scenes from the 2019 Masters
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the 15th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: A gallery of patrons look on while Tiger Woods of the United States walks across the 16th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Xander Schauffele of the United States chips to the 13th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Jon Rahm, of Spain, hits out of the bunker on the 16th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Billy Horschel flips his club on the fourth hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the rough on the first hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Tyrrell Hatton of England reacts to a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland jumps across Rae's Creek on the 13th hole during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States reacts on the 15th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tyrrell Hatton of England reacts on the 13th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from the 12th tee during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Brooks Koepka of the United States crosses the Sarazen Bridge on the 15th hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after sinking his putt to win during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

More from Yahoo Sports:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.