A woman from Bronx, New York received a 21-month prison sentence for fraudulently obtaining more than $200,000 worth of iPhones. She and her conspirators conducted a two-year-long insurance fraud scheme to obtain the smartphones. There have been a number of iPhone insurance scams brought to the courts recently, as people increasingly take advantage of the programs.
Cell Phone Insurance Fraud En Masse
Rosanna Lucrecia Cruel Blanco pleaded guilty in May 2021 to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. From December 2017 until January 2020, Blanco and her conspirators signed up for accounts with a New Jersey telecommunications company using falsified identification. They then took out insurance on the devices that covered loss from theft or damage.
Once the insurance took effect, Blanco and her conspirators filed insurance claims. Citing theft, damage, or loss, Blanco requested replacement devices. The insurance firm, identified only as Nashville-based Company 1, sent the smartphones using UPS or FedEx. The conspirators used different shipping addresses than those listed on the false identification. Court records show the smartphones shipped to the Bronx, Yonkers, White Plains, Manhattan, and various locations in New Jersey.
An iPhone Insurance Scam That Didn’t Even Pay Its Bills
In many cases, Blanco would pay the upfront cost of the phone insurance with a bank debit card. Once the insurance company shipped the “replacement” devices, she would cancel the insurance and obtain a refund for the premium.
The insurance provider shipped more than a hundred phones to the conspirators, mostly iPhones valued at between $700 and $1,000 USD. Total damages exceeded $200,000.
According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, Blanco received a 21-month prison sentence and is also required to complete three years of supervised release. Additionally, she has to pay restitution and forfeiture of $246,025 USD.
Originally, the courts charged Blanco with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. The conspiracy to commit mail fraud carried a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000. She could have received a maximum sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge. Blanco would have served that sentence consecutively with other sentences, if convicted.
In the plea deal, Blanco only had to plead guilty to the mail fraud charge. The 21-month prison term seems like a mere slap on the wrist compared to the maximum sentence.