TUSCARORA, Pa. (WETM) — A Meshoppen man has been sentenced to incarceration after an investigation into him scamming a man from Australia out of tens of thousands of dollars in Basketball cards.
Michael Benjamin, 37, was sentenced to incarceration in the Bradford County Correctional Facility for 6 months to 42 months followed by Probation Supervision for a term of 18 months by the Bradford County District Attorney’s Office. The sentencing comes after an investigation into incidents that occurred in Tuscarora Township and Athens Township in 2020 and 2021.
According to police, the victim initially contacted members of PSP Towanda stating that they had been scammed by Benjamin during an online sale of basketball cards. The victim, who is from Australia, supplied the responding officer with numerous emails detailing PayPal transactions, messages, and pictures exchanged between him and Benjamin.
According to police, 419 pages of Facebook texts took place between the two parties regarding the transaction between January 2021, to June 2021. In these messages, police said the victim sent a package to Benjamin containing 17 high-valued basketball cards with a value of $15,000.
Police also said that a large sum of money was transferred from the victim to Benjamin’s PayPal account. After reviewing the documentation sent by the victim, PSP Towada totaled the amount of money paid by the victim to Benjamin at $35,727.30.
On January 18, 2022, PSP Towanda applied for a search warrant to PayPal for all accounts related to Benjamin. After being granted the search warrant by PayPal, police said that they found that an account had all of the transactions from the victim except for one totaling $1,801.88.
On March 25, 2022, police obtained a search warrant for Benjamin’s home located in Laceyville Pa. He was located inside his residence and arrested. At the residence, Police found four of the Basketball cards sent by the victim.
Benjamin was questioned by police and admitted to entering a deal with the victim for basketball sporting cards. According to police, Benjamin admitted that he lied to the victim on multiple occasions including making fictitious business partners’ identities, taking airplane flights to further the transactions between him and the victim, and lying about medical issues all in order to deceive the victim.
Police said that Benjamin had multiple opportunities to refund the money sent to his PayPal account by the victim, but never did.
Benjamin was ordered by the Bradford County District Attorney to pay restitution of $50,327, for the offenses of Theft by Deception, Felony 3, Receiving Stolen Property, Felony 3, and Retail Theft, Felony 3.