BUFFALO — A Conewango Valley man was sentenced to time served for his role in a fraudulent Salamanca debt restructuring business that reportedly scammed 200 people out of $1.2 million.
Mark Farnham, 26, of Conewango Valley, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to time served — nine months — and five years’ supervised release.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Lamarque, Wei Xiang and Mary Clare Kane, who handled the case, Farnham worked at companies with various names such as “Corporate Restructure” and “Salamanca Payroll Services” between February and October 2016.
Farnham was a manager for Corporate Restructure Inc., which operated out of office space in Salamanca and Buffalo, prosecutors said.
Farnham, his co-defendants and others used a number of fraudulent companies to mail solicitations to small business owners, which fraudulently claimed they could assist them with restructuring debts they had with other lenders, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said that from the summer of 2016 until Oct. 27, 2016, Farnham opened multiple bank accounts at a number of banks; made daily deposits into the accounts; made daily withdrawals from the accounts; 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 reportedly used aliases and provided the victims with inaccurate information about the purported loan restructure. He also continued to deposit victims’ monies into the account of shell companies that never provided any services, and withdrew the deposited money from those accounts.
Prosecutors previously said the fraudulent debt restructuring businesses ultimately defrauded approximately 200 victims out of approximately $1.2 million.
Farnham’s co-defendants — Sergiy Bezrukov, Dustin Walker and Vanessa Cardona — were all previously convicted and are awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors credited the work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security Investigations.