Danville man admits to years-long ID theft, fraud schemes | Courts-police-fire | #phishing | #scams

URBANA — A Danville man with a history of scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars out of businesses and individuals faces years behind bars in federal prison.

Jeffery T. Henson, 43, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Urbana to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering in connection with elaborate schemes that went on for years.

According to court documents, in 2016, Henson pretended to be an online job recruiter to obtain the personal information of a job seeker. He then used that stolen information to obtain a job in that person’s name as the director of accounting at a Schaumburg consulting firm.

Since he used a stolen identity, the company was unaware of his prior theft convictions.

Once employed, Henson set up fraudulent companies with names similar to the firm’s legitimate vendors and used his position to forge company checks, which he directed to his fraudulently created companies.

The firm lost out on at least $1.86 million before Henson fled the Chicago area and moved to Danville in 2018.

That year, according to court documents, Henson then stole the identity of an Indiana resident with whom he made podcasts.

He used the stolen identity to open up a fraudulent bank account and get a job in that person’s name as the comptroller of Watchfire Signs LLC in Danville.

In that post, Henson defrauded Watchfire by diverting its legitimate tax payments to a fraudulent bank account he had opened with the stolen identity.

Henson also laundered some of the fraud money by buying a $50,000 cashier’s check, which he used toward the purchase of a more-than-$100,000 Mercedes-Benz.

Watchfire discovered Henson’s scheme in November 2019, when the victim of Henson’s identity theft contacted the company after discovering that Henson was using his identity.

By that time, Henson had defrauded Watchfire of about $330,000.

Authorities arrested Henson on Nov. 25, 2019, at a bank in Indianapolis, when he tried to get to the fraudulent account. At the time, he had several stolen identity documents on him.

Henson has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals since his arrest almost two years ago.

At his sentencing, set for Feb. 7, he faces penalties of up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering and two years for aggravated identity theft.

The case was investigated by the Springfield division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Danville police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller prosecuted him.

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