Three Plead Guilty in Green Dot Scam Run by Alabama DOC Inmates
MONTGOMERY, AL—Pamela Lee, age 48, of Madison, Alabama, Michael Shane Garrison, age 26, and Marlon Ramon Coston, age 21, pleaded guilty in federal on Tuesday for their roles in a in a scheme to defraud businesses throughout the United States, announced George L. Beck Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Both Garrison and Coston are inmates in the Alabama Department of Corrections
Court documents indicated that between 2012 and 2014, Lee, Garrison, and Coston, ran a wide-ranging wire fraud scheme in which they used prepaid Green Dot and AccountNow cards to defraud multiple businesses, primarily service stations and convenience stores. Garrison and Coston carried out this scheme while they were incarcerated at the Bullock Correctional Facility, using cell phones that had been smuggled into the prison.
The scheme typically consisted of either Garrison or Coston using the cell phones to call a store and pose as a manager. The two would instruct the clerk to do a cash-count of the register at which time they would inform the clerk that there was a discrepancy with the register’s balance. They would then have the clerk make up for the discrepancy by purchasing a Green Dot prepaid cash or debit card with cash from the register and provide the account numbers over the phone to the “manager.”
Once the account numbers had been obtained by Garrison and Coston, they would then call Lee and have her transfer the funds to another card prior to the fraudulent card being frozen by Green Dot. Lee kept a portion of the transferred funds and maintained multiple alternate prepaid cards for Garrison and Coston at her residence in Madison County, Alabama. Lee provided the account numbers for the alternate cards to Garrison and Coston, who used them to purchase contraband from correctional officers employed at Bullock Correctional Facility.
On Tuesday, Lee, Garrison, and Coston each entered guilty pleas to a single count of wire fraud for carrying out this scheme in October of 2014, through a series of telephone calls to a Shell Station located in Gardendale, Alabama. The three will be sentenced in a separate proceeding where they will face a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison. A date for that hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The investigation of this case was initiated by the Gardendale Police Department and was a joint effort with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and the Alabama Department of Corrections. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon K. Essig and Jonathan Ross.