Valrico resident Michelle Guy was sentenced this week to 48 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Her husband and co-defendant Kevin Guy was sentenced last month to 37 months in prison for his involvement in the same fraud. Each pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charges.
In addition to the prison sentence, the federal court also ordered Michelle Guy to forfeit over 400 high-end purses, shoes, sunglasses, electronics, and other clothing, which are traceable to proceeds of the offense. She is also required to forfeit $2.2 million in cash, which the court asserts constitutes the proceeds of the mail and wire fraud conspiracy. She is also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and pay $2,280,263.17 in restitution to HSBC Bank.
According to court documents, between February 2001 and August 2011, Michelle Guy worked for HSBC Mortgage Services in Brandon, Florida. During her employment, HSBC Mortgage Services maintained an employee Recognition Program in which employees were rewarded for good performance with Monopoly-style money that could be redeemed for preloaded gift cards in various denominations. The program was funded by HSBC Finance and HSBC Bank.
One of Guy’s occasional duties was to order and distribute gift cards. She had access to a flex account to purchase those card but the account was not strictly audited.
Beginning around January 2007, and continuing through November 2011, according to the indictment and guilty plea, Michelle Guy conspired with various individuals, including her husband, to defraud HSBC Mortgage Services, Inc. and HSBC Bank by ordering approximately $2,216,776.12 in American Express gift cards, AMEX gift checks, and store gift cards, without authorization. Michelle Guy then directed those gift checks and gift cards to her residence and office.
One example of how this occurred was outlined in the plea agreement. On Feb. 4, 2011, it stated, Guy sent an email from her corporate account to a representative of Altour International, a company that sold American Express gift cards and checks.
“Eleanor, I am submitting a check request for quantity 400 of $100 each gift checks and quantity 20 of $500 each gift cards. Check total is $51,319. I will also be sending you the FedEx Pak to return the order in. Thanks, Michelle Guy.”
When Altour sent an invoice, Guy forged the signature of her former supervisor and forwarded the bill to accounting, the court document states.
The return mail packages were preaddressed to the Guys’ residence or to Michelle Guy’s attention at work.
After the gift cards and gift checks were delivered, Michelle and Kevin Guy deposited the AMEX gift checks into various bank accounts and used the gift cards to purchase luxury items, including tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Neiman Marcus, and other high-end stores. On June 24, 2011, Kevin Guy used fraud proceeds as a down payment on a $96,000 2011 Mercedes Benz S Class vehicle.
During the execution of two search warrants at the couple’s home, law enforcement seized approximately seventy-two AMEX gift checks and more than sixty store gift cards associated with Dillard’s, Olive Garden, Target, Banana Republic, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Foot Locker, Walmart, Outback, JC Penney’s, and Darden. Agents also seized over 25 luxury purses, more than 100 pairs of designer shoes, over 100 pairs of jeans, more than twenty pairs of designer sunglasses, four flat screen televisions, two computers, and a high-end refrigerator-all purchased with fraud proceeds.