Texas family sentenced after pleading guilty to massive Masters ticket scam

The Texas man behind a massive Masters Tournament ticket scheme was sentenced to 28 months in prison on Monday, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

Michael Freeman, his parents and his sister all pled guilty to wire fraud charges last year after admitting to running an “elaborate” scheme to fraudulently obtain tickets to the Masters and resell them for a profit. 

They were also ordered to pay more than $275,000 in total in community restitution. Freeman’s parents, Diane and Steven Freeman, and his sister, Christine Oliverson, were sentenced to three years probation. Freeman must also serve three years on supervised release after his prison sentence, per the report. 

“I’m here to be accountable and to make amends in any way I can,” Freeman said, via the Augusta Chronicle

Freeman family runs massive scam

Tickets to the Masters are extremely difficult to land and can run a hefty price each April. 

In 2019, single-day passes to the tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia were being sold for more than $7,500 and four-day passes for more than $14,000.

The Freemans admitted in court that they purchased a bulk address list and used its names and addresses to create fake accounts in the Masters ticket system used for the lottery each year without the individuals on the list’s knowledge. 

Once those accounts won tickets in the lottery, the family would create fake IDs to convince the golf club to change the mailing address to theirs. Then, the family would simply resell the tickets. 

The Freemans ran the scam for about five years, per the report. The golf club first contacted the FBI about suspicious activity in 2017. 

“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 last year. “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.”

The Masters was postponed from its initial date in April this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now scheduled to be held in November, and will be the third and final major championship of the calendar year. The British Open was the lone major championship to cancel completely.

The gates are locked at the Augusta National Golf Club entrance

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