A Southlake couple accused of running an elaborate cybercrime that stole more than $15 million from telecommunication companies including AT&T and Verizon was arrested in Mexico, the FBI announced Friday.
Mexican police arrested Michael and Chastity Faulkner in Cancun Friday morning and agents were expected to return them to Dallas Friday night, said Robert Casey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Dallas office.
“They were hiding out from arrest, no doubt in my mind,” Casey said. “It took us a number of months to find them. It’s very gratifying.”
The Faulkners and 17 others were charged with using fake identities and shell companies to run a high-tech fraud.
They essentially set up lines of credit with communications companies to buy millions of minutes of telephone calls, which they then resold to unsuspecting customers, the indictment alleged.
The FBI’s investigation became public in March and April when agents raided several houses and businesses, including Core IP Networks, an Internet service provider on Bryan Street.
The April 22 raid briefly shut down about 50 Web sites.
Later that day, the owner of the business, Matthew Simpson, posted a message on the Internet.
"If you run a datacenter, please be aware that in our great country, the FBI can come into your place of business at any time and take whatever they want, with no reason," Simpson wrote.
Simpson is one of the 19 charged in the case, which Casey describes as one of the largest cyber crimes he has ever seen.
“This was a cybercrime wave that went on for six years,” he said. “This is one of the more significant cybercrime cases in the last several years.”
An anonymous posting on the Internet said Michael Faulkner had died trying to cross from Mexico into the United States, but the FBI said it was a hoax. It was not clear who posted the message.
Two other men accused in the case, Jason Watts, 32, and William Watts, 38, were also arrested in Mexico.