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Manteca trio indicted in Nigerian scam

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi woman first believed to be a victim of a Nigerian scam has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Gulfport along with a Nigerian man and five others.

Court documents show Ann Louise Franzen, of Kiln, was considered a victim in 2012 when authorities learned she had received $3.1 million in counterfeit checks and money orders.

But a 19-count indictment alleges Franzen was part of an Internet-based scheme to defraud others through work-at-home and secret-shopper scams. According to the indictment, the scheme allegedly involved bogus checks, money orders and traveler’s checks and the purchase of “high dollar” items with fraudulent credit card accounts.

The indictment was unsealed this week.

Others indicted were Funso Hassan of Nigeria; Gary Melvin Barnard, Shawn Ann White and Michele Gayle Fee, all of Manteca, California; Anthony Shane Jeffers of Maryville, Tennessee; and Tanya Lynn Thomas of Reno, Nevada, and Turlock, California.

Hassan was taken into custody on a criminal complaint June 2 when he flew into the U.S. He is held without bond. Hassan pleaded not guilty Wednesday. His trial date was set on a court calendar that starts Oct. 5.

Court records show arrest warrants have been issued for the others.

Homeland Security Investigations alleges Hassan and others directed the shipping of counterfeit checks and the purchases and reshipping of expensive clothes, jewelry, purses, computers and cellphones bought with fraudulent credit cards.

Illegal proceeds were wired or shipped to others in Nigeria, China, Ghana, Haiti, South Africa, Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.

The indictment alleges the conspiracy ran about four years, from Aug. 13, 2011, through June 3.

Each defendant is charged under the indictment with attempt and conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S. and money laundering.

Thomas also faces 16 counts of fraud. Jeffers and Barnard each face 10 fraud counts. Hassan and Franzen face six fraud counts.

The indictment alleges Hassan and others sent emails to find their victims, who received bogus checks, deposited them at their banks and sent most of the money to others.

The indictment said Franzen and Jeffers designed and made the bogus checks for distribution throughout the U.S., and Barnard, Thomas and Jeffers mailed fake checks to 11 South Mississippi victims.

Court documents allege customs agents in Los Angeles in 2012 intercepted bogus checks from Malaysia in a package addressed to Bowen Consulting at Franzen’s home address. The same year, she allegedly received bogus checks from Nigeria in a package labeled “local soap and sponge herbs.”

When questioned, Franzen relinquished 671 bogus checks written against various banks and 646 fake money orders, an HSI agent’s sworn statement said.

Emails link her to Hassan, who used a different name online, the indictment said. In one email, she reportedly asked him to retype instructions for mystery-shopper jobs.

The indictment said agents seized more than $1.1 million in fake checks from Thomas’ home and about the same amount in bogus checks from the home of Barnard and White.

White and Fee are alleged to have used a fake ID to handle wire transfers. Fee also allegedly received six fake identification documents and 550 bogus checks.


August 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six Nigerian nationals extradited to Miss. in Internet scam case

Greg Toppo, USATODAY 7:22 p.m. EDT July 13, 2015

Have you gotten an online dating message recently from Adeline Piper? How about Dickson Jones or Marlon Chase? The person on the other end may be a Nigerian scammer, the U.S. government said on Monday.

In a case that could spread to other states, six Nigerian nationals have been extradited to Mississippi to face charges that they helped run a nearly 15-year-long series of Internet scams. The rip-offs preyed upon Americans using online dating and work-at-home websites, among others.

In a nine-count federal indictment, the U.S. Justice Department said that since 2001, the group has committed several crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and identity theft. The case includes “romance-reshipping scams, fraudulent check scams, work-at-home scams and account take-overs.”

In one case from 2013, the defendants drained $34,950 from a brokerage account belonging to two of the victims and dropped the money into a bank account. Then they began withdrawing it with MoneyGrams and prepaid VISA cards, a few hundred dollars at a time, over the next several months.

In another case from 2011, the indictment said, the con artists opened a fraudulent AT&T wireless telephone account using the name of one victim, then bought two BlackBerry Torch smartphones with a credit card stolen from a second victim; then they shipped the phones to a third victim, with instructions on how to ship the devices to South Africa.

In many of the cases, the indictment said, victims believed they were shipping the items abroad for charitable purposes.

Officials said the six Nigerian nationals were extradited from South Africa, where they operated, to Gulfport, Miss., to face federal charges there. The Justice Department said the victims lived in Mississippi and were enticed to give up personal and financial data, in some cases, through fictitious online romantic relationships.

The suspects used, among other tools, the dating site, the indictment said. The site calls itself a “community specially designed to cater to senior singles seeking mature dating.” It advertises that users can “meet senior singles in under 2 minutes.” Officials with the site didn’t immediately respond to an interview request.

Federal prosecutors have already won convictions for three others in the case; a half dozen are awaiting trial, while authorities are still trying to extradite three more suspects from Nigeria. Three more alleged scammers remain fugitives, the government said.

A Justice Department spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing and could expand to include charges in other states.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nigerian, 31, dupes 75-year-old Dutch woman of €200,000


A 75-year-old female Dutch national, Jeanet De Jonge, has lost €200,000 to a 31-year-old Nigerian, Michael Adio in a romance scam.

It was gathered that Adio, who had been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, pretended to be an American citizen, making it easy for Jonge to fall for him.

The EFCC, which described Adio as a confidence trickster, revealed that the man was an indigene of the Owu area of Ogun State.

Explaining how the suspect, perpetrated the act, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the victim and the suspect met on a dating site and started a relationship.

Uwujaren said, “Adio met the victim on the ‘Net log’ dating site and pretended to be a 41-year-old American citizen working as a chef in a Nigerian restaurant and needed a wife.

“The profile attracted Jeanet (Jonge) and, in no time, began sending him money through Western Union and Money Gram.”

It was gathered that Adio had told his victim that he wanted to meet her, but needed funds to get documents and perfect his travel plans.

However, trouble was said to have started when Jonge did not see her hubby after sending money to him for almost two years.

Uwujaren said, “Investigations revealed that the suspect collected various sums under the pretext that he was going to use the money to perfect his travel plans and obtain the required documents that would enable him travel to Holland to join or visit Jeanet.

“His inability or refusal to honour the invitation from Jeanet made her to be suspicious and prompted her to petition the EFCC.”

Adio, in his statement to the EFCC, said, “She was sending me money monthly, ranging from $800 to $900 from June 2012 through Western Union Money transfer and Money Gram.

“There was a time the Western Union blocked her from sending money to me in Nigeria. So, she requested that I should go to London to enable her send me money there.

“I contacted a friend of mine in London, Osas Odiah, to receive the money and send to me here in Nigeria.

“She first sent €2,000 to my friend’s account in London, and later to my Keystone bank account, which was actually a Forex Trade account.

“We started using this account when we discovered that my friend was not remitting all the money sent by Jeanet (Jonge) to me.”

Uwujaren said the commission was still following up on some lead, adding that Adio would be arraigned in court as soon as investigation was concluded.

September 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

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