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October 2, 2022

Former Alabama business exec charged with stealing $2.1 million, via PayPal, faked email account

Federal prosecutors have charged a Round Rock, Texas man with wire fraud for embezzling from his employer, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.

A one-count information filed yesterday in U.S. District Court charges Steve Ray Shickles, Jr., 43, of Round Rock, Texas, with wire fraud.

According to the information, between January 2012 and January 2019, while employed as the Chief Operating Officer for Simple Helix, LLC in Huntsville, Shickles devised and executed a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from Simple Helix. As part of the scheme, Shickles gained access to PayPal accounts of Simple Helix and made multiple unauthorized charges, withdrawals, and transfers from those accounts to pay for personal expenses.

Shickles also created a fraudulent email account for Simple Helix and caused funds intended for Simple Helix to be deposited into personal accounts of Shickles.

Shickles took steps to conceal his fraudulent activities by causing a computer-generated report of financial activities of Simple Helix to exclude his fraudulent transactions.

The fraudulent transfers caused by Shickles resulted in a loss to Simple Helix of over $2.1 million dollars.

“White-collar crimes imperil the livelihood of every employee and their families. Vigorous enforcement against white-collar criminals is the best deterrent and means to protect the integrity of our community institutions,” said United States Attorney Prim F. Escalona.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Pillsbury is prosecuting the case.

An information contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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