DOUGLAS — A fourth person pleaded guilty in federal court this week on charges stemming from a phone scam operation originating in Douglas in 2016, said Coffee County Sheriff Doyle Wooten.
Vince Plumb pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Waycross and is expected to be sentenced within the next month, said Wooten.
The case stems from a 2016 investigation that began when Wooten received information that a scam operation was possibly being conducted at 904 N. Madison Ave. in Douglas.
Wooten said he consulted with the Douglas Police Department and the two agencies initiated an investigation.
After weeks of surveillance, it was discovered that the employees of the scam operation were making a phone calls each day to individuals throughout the United States in an attempt to extract payment for debts not owed, said Wooten.
Investigators also learned that the scam operators in Douglas had connections to several business partners in the Orlando, Fla. area, said Wooten, and at that point, the United States Secret Service was contacted for assistance.
In the meantime, said Wooten, the Douglas scam operation expanded by opening a second location at 803 N. Peterson Ave.
On May 4, 2016, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas-Coffee Drug Unit, Douglas Police Department and U.S. Secret Service agents executed a federal search warrant at 904 North Madison Ave. and 803 North Peterson Ave., where electronic equipment and other evidence was collected, said Wooten.
“All employees located at the sites were interviewed and both locations were closed,” said Wooten. “Simultaneously, the Orlando, Fla. connections were searched.”
Three other individuals entered guilty pleas earlier in this case and have already been sentenced.
Derron Washington received a four-year sentence after pleading guilty in December 2017. Alex Plumb was sentenced to one year, and Jennifer Smith, formerly of Douglas, was sentenced to three years.