Atlanta Store Owner Found Guilty of Operating Black Market for Fraudulent and Stolen Phones

As posted on February 17, 2017 on www.justice.gov

ATLANTA - Tony Archie has been found guilty after a seven-day trial of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Archie, while the manager of ACE Wholesale and later the owner of Westside Wireless, bought tens of thousands of brand new cell phones from sellers who obtained them through fraudulent means. 

“Archie created and maintained a black market for illegal cell phone sales in Atlanta,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Despite previous warnings, he pursued the easy money that came from trafficking in fraudulent cell phones. The jury, however, saw this activity for what it was, and returned a guilty verdict.”

“The Office of the Attorney General applauds the jury’s guilty verdict against Tony Archie,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “I am especially proud of the work of our Consumer Protection Unit’s Criminal Investigation Division for initiating and investigating this case. Our former Criminal Investigator Richard Schneider and Criminal Analyst Tara Tripp worked diligently to develop crucial evidence and provide vital support throughout. I congratulate our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia for a successful prosecution, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in eliminating truly bad actors from conducting illegitimate business in Georgia.”

“This case illustrates not just the significance of an aggressive and tenacious approach to combat these types of fraud, but also illustrates the importance of partnerships with federal and state law enforcement agencies,” said Kenneth Cronin, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. “We will continue to work closely with prosecutors to ensure offenders like Archie are put behind bars.”

“Pretending to operate legitimate businesses will not thwart law enforcement’s efforts in determining the true nature of the businesses and the crimes they promote,” stated Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The verdict in the trial of Tony Archie clearly illustrates that individuals who engage in these types of illegal activities will not go undetected and will be held accountable for their actions.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Archie became the manager of ACE Wholesale in 2011, shortly after it opened in the Atlanta area. The store’s main function was to buy brand new cell phones that would later be shipped and sold overseas. ACE’s sellers obtained the new cell phones at below-market cost by entering or causing others to enter into cell phone carrier contracts they had no intention of honoring; hijacking or creating corporate identities to establish fraudulent business accounts with cell phone carriers; and by filing fraudulent cell phone insurance claims to get brand new replacement phones.

In less than two years, ACE paid out over $63 million, with over $20 million going to just 52 sellers who repeatedly brought in new phones to the store. In August 2012, ACE shut down after law enforcement executed a search warrant at the store. Within two months, Archie opened Westside Wireless where he continued to buy fraudulently obtained, brand new cell phones. At Westside Wireless, Archie paid out over $8 million more for new cell phones.

Tony Archie, 52, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged with wire fraud conspiracy, six counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and five counts of money laundering. A jury found Archie guilty on all counts.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 16, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. before United States District Judge Mark H. Cohen.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office - Consumer Protection Unit.

Assistant United States Attorney Samir Kaushal and Special Assistant United States Attorney Diane C. Schulman are prosecuting the case.