Lubbock Man Sentenced for Stealing Mail and Selling Personal Details on Dark Web
In Lubbock, Texas, a resident was prosecuted in a federal court of law on December 28 and sentenced to a four-year imprisonment along with an additional three years on probation following the prison sentence. The 31-year-old male named Garrett Austin Malone confessed to the crime of stealing mail in Lubbock and selling the personal information and credit cards obtained from the mail on the dark web.
Malone was arrested on September 14, 2017, just three days after one of his accomplices, Joshua Gilbert, attempted to fraudulently withdraw money from an account. Malone had asked the 31-year-old male to use a fake ID to cash a counterfeit cheque from someone else’s account at the First Bank and Trust.
The teller at the drive-through services, however, became suspicious of the transaction and contacted the police. A few minutes later, Gilbert, fearing he had been found out, left the bank, leaving the cheque and his driving license behind.
Gilbert went back to the bank three days later to recover his ID, during which time the police arrested him. Further investigations linked him to Malone, leading to both their arrests and detention at the Lubbock County Detention Center.
Gilbert confessed to the attempted crime that had occurred at the bank three days earlier and said that Malone had sent him to commit the fraud. He further added that Malone was infuriated when he came back without the money and the ID, and Malone pressured him to go and retrieve his ID.
Detectives also gathered from Gilbert that Malone had many fraudulent checks, identifying cards and credit cards at his home on the 2800 block at 35th street. This information led to the police obtaining a search warrant for Malone’s home.
During the search, Malone was found with four other men, possibly his accomplices. Items recovered at the house included a coach bag and a tote bag both found in his living room, and three more bags were hidden in the attic.
The bags contained numerous fake IDs under other people’s names, credit and debit cards, counterfeit cheques and a large chunk of stolen mail. Malone confessed to ownership of all the bags.
Later in June, Malone was interrogated by a postal investigator, during which time he revealed that he and his accomplices had broken into three blue boxes belonging to the U.S. Postal Service in Lubbock and about 50 business and home mailboxes also in Lubbock. He stole credit cards, checks and mail that contained vital personal information.
Malone and his partners in crime would then market the personal information on the darknet; people would purchase the information at various prices and then use the information to access other people’s accounts and the like by impersonation. He would also use the information to cash fake cheques or to open counterfeit credit card accounts which he would then sell on the darknet or use for his personal benefit.
In November, Malone was found guilty of a first degree state felony due to possession and illegal use of fake identification information which made him liable for five years imprisonment.
However, following the charges, Malone personally wrote letters to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which he acknowledged to have taken part in mail theft and requested to be prosecuted in the federal court. His attorney, Laurie Key, managed to waive the federal grand jury sentence of five years.
While representing Malone in court, Key requested Judge Sam Cummings reduce the sentence since Malone had come clean to the federal government concerning his illegal activities, which she claimed was an act of atonement for his crimes. She asked that the sentence be lowered from the 37-46 month recommendation set by the federal probation administrators.
Her plea resulted in Malone being sentenced to just under four years imprisonment. Malone also agreed to undergo alcohol and drug rehabilitation as well as mental health treatment after serving his time in prison.
His conspirator, Gilbert, was charged in a state court and pleaded guilty to a first degree felony count for fraudulent possession and the use of fake identification. He was sentenced to a seven-year jail term.