Consumer Watch: Craigslist Utility Bill Scammer Sentenced

Wednesday, November 3rd 2010, 9:30 pm
By: News 9

Amanda Taylor, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The man convicted in a Craigslist utility bill scam is sentenced in federal court.

Wallace Lawrence III was the mastermind of a scheme that targeted Oklahomans who were desperate for help in paying their bills.

He posted ads on Craigslist stating his company had funds to pay your utility bills. It wasn't until after he paid the bills and you paid him his fee, the payment he made bounced, leaving you out even more.

When News 9's Consumer Watch Team learned several Oklahomans lost money in this scam, we went undercover to piece together the scam. That's about the time we learned the U.S. Secret Service was also working the case. With News 9's help, agents busted Lawrence and his two accomplices. That helped Federal prosecutors build their case.

Back in May, they asked News 9's Amanda Taylor to testify. And that led to the conviction of Lawrence and the two others on identity theft charges. This week, a U.S. district judge sentenced Lawrence to close to eight years in prison and ordered him to pay more than $20,000 back to his victims.

Before the sentence was handed down, News 9 heard from Lawrence for the first time, "My deepest apology to the victims. I want my family to know I'm sorry for the decisions and choices I've made in my life, and I'm ready to get on with my life."

But U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti wasn't too sympathetic, telling Lawrence, "The most troubling thing...the victims were desperate, down and out. That's who you schemed on."

As for those accomplices, Sandra Acuna is serving two and a half years in prison. Carrie Adams will spend a year and a half in prison. Both have also been ordered to pay more than $20,000 each in restitution.

More: Consumer Watch Helps Put Scammer Away | Consumer Watch: Woman Accused in Craigslist Utility Bill Scam