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Conewango Valley man pleads guilty to debt restructuring scheme

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Mark Farnham, 25, of Conewango Valley, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. 
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Lamarque and Wei Xiang, who are handling the case, stated that between February 2016 and October 2016, the defendant worked with co-defendants Sergiy Bezrukov and Dustin Walker at companies with various names such as “Corporate Restructure,” and “Salamanca Payroll Services.” Farnham was a manager for Corporate Restructure, Inc., which operated out of office space in Salamanca, NY, and Buffalo NY. 
Farnham, Bezrukov and Walker, along with others, used a number of fraudulent companies to mail solicitations to small business owners (victims) which fraudulently informed the victims that one or more of the fraudulent companies could assist the Victims with restructuring debts they had with other lenders.
From the summer of 2016 until October 27, 2016, the defendant: opened multiple bank accounts at a number of banks, including Citizens Bank, Bank of America, Northwest Savings Bank and First Niagara Bank; made daily deposits into the bank accounts opened at the aforementioned banks; made daily withdrawals from the bank accounts at the aforementioned banks; opened post office boxes which were used to receive Victims mail and to use as the return addresses on solicitation letters; and took calls from victims who were upset and had questions about their “loan restructure.”
When talking with victims over the telephone, Farnham used aliases and provided the victims with information that was not true or accurate about the status of the purported loan restructure. Farnham continued to deposit victims’ monies into the account of shell companies that never provided any services, and withdrew the deposited money from those accounts.        
Charges are pending against Sergiy Bezrukov with trial set to begin on December 17, 2018, before Judge Vilardo. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Dustin Walker was previously convicted and is awaiting sentencing.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; and Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2019, before Judge Vilardo.