Texas Family Charged In Federal Masters Ticket Scheme

If you’ve ever tried to get badges to The Masters Tournament through their ticket lottery, you know how difficult and frustrating the process can be. 

However, a Texas family found a way to stack the ballot box in their favor. This scheme earned them a healthy payday upselling those badges on the secondary market. Unfortunately for them, Augusta National Golf Club also was able to crack their code, which now could result in up to 20 years in prison, as well as substantial fines. 

Four members of the Freeman family of Katy, Texas were charged with federal crimes for using stolen identities to circumvent the Masters lottery system. Court documents filed in Augusta didn’t specify the number of badges the family was able to procure, nor the amount of money they made off their resale, but it was detailed that they had been doing it from 2013 to 2017.

According to The Associated Press, Stephen Michael Freeman was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as aggravated identity theft. Freeman’s parents — Steven Lee Freeman and Diane Freeman of Helotes, Texas — and a sister, Christine Oliverson of San Antonio, were also charged with conspiracy.

The scheme involved purchasing bulk mailing lists to obtain names and addresses of people who the Freemans would, in turn, register on the Augusta National online ticket lottery. The lottery only allows for one entry per address, which was the restriction the entire scheme was meant to circumvent. 

The bogus accounts were submitted along with email addresses that the Freemans controlled. 

When the fake names were selected, the family would use “false driver licenses, false utility bills and false credit card statements in the identity of the fake user accounts,” to request Augusta National mail the badges to addresses where the Freemans would be able to receive them. 

The charging document stated that the family would then resell the badges on the secondary market for “a substantial profit.”

The office of U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said that the charges carry potential penalties of up to 20 years in prison and substantial fines. It’s safe to say a lifetime ban from Augusta National Golf Club is also in the cards.