Montgomery, Alabama – On Thursday, July 9, 2020, Robert Brandon Malone, 35, a resident of Prattville, Alabama, was sentenced to 71 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges and to transporting a stolen vehicle, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell, and Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson. In addition, Malone was ordered to pay $93,784.68 in restitution to his victims and serve three years of supervised release after he completes his time in prison.
According to court records, from early 2017 through late 2018, Malone orchestrated multiple schemes to sell automobiles that did not belong to him. First, in April of 2017, Malone posted a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck for sale on the advertising website craigslist that was actually a trade-in vehicle to the dealership for which he worked at the time. A potential buyer saw the post and purchased the truck. However, after discovering that Malone did not actually own the vehicle, it was returned to the dealership. Malone did not refund the buyer’s money.
Later, in January of 2018, Malone was completing work on a Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck for someone and was storing it at his shop. Malone again created a craigslist post listing it for sale and he ultimately arranged to trade it for another vehicle. Once the buyer learned that Malone did not actually own the truck, it was returned to the rightful owner. However, the vehicle that was traded was not returned.
Finally, in November of 2018, Malone was in the process of completing the paperwork to purchase an Audi R8 at a car dealership in Georgia. Before the purchase was complete, he left with the vehicle and returned to Prattville. He then contacted someone that he knew was in the market for an Audi and they made a trip to Prattville to look at the vehicle. The purchaser gave him a down payment for the car and left his F-150 with Malone to hold temporarily until he could return to pick it up. However, Malone did not wait for the owner to return, instead, he listed the truck on Instagram and sold it to another individual. Ultimately, the Audi was returned to the dealership and the truck to the Audi purchaser. However, neither victim recovered their losses.
Malone was indicted by a federal grand jury in October of 2019 on three counts of wire fraud and one count of transporting a stolen vehicle. He was arrested on those charges on November 1, 2019, and released pending his trial. However, his pre-trial release was revoked on February 7, 2020 after it was discovered that, while working at a car dealership in Pelham, Alabama, he was engaging in similar conduct that violated Alabama state law. He has been in federal custody since.
“While carrying out his schemes and scamming his victims out of thousands of dollars, Malone showed no concern about being caught or held accountable,” stated U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. “Even after being arrested and charged for his crimes, he chose to return to his old ways. I am thankful to our law enforcement partners for putting a stop to his crime spree and helping to get justice for his victims. Once again, this case reminds us that we must always exercise caution when making purchases through online websites.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell stated, “This is the result when state, local, and federal authorities work together to make our communities a safer place.”
“Malone’s crimes were widespread and harmed a number of victims,” stated Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson. “I am grateful for the cooperation and support we received from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in this case. Due to the great relationships we have established with our federal partners, the victims in this case will get the justice they deserve.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Prattville Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Bates prosecuted this case.