7 people sentenced for online fraud scams

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Seven people have been sentenced in connection with online fraud schemes.

The schemes involved counterfeit checks, mystery shopper websites, and work-from-home scams.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement Thursday about the sentencing.

The Department of Justice said 27-year-old Funso Hassan and 44-year-old Anthony Shane Jeffers pleaded guilty on April 12, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft of government property and one count of use of mail and an interstate facility to distribute proceeds of a racketeering activity. Hassan and Jeffers were each sentenced to 120 months in prison.

70-year-old Ann Louise Franzen of Kiln, Mississippi, 64-year-old Gary Melvin Barnard, 55-year-old Michele Gayle Fee, 52-year-old Tanya Lynn Thomas, and 44-year-old Shawn Ann White previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft of government property.

Franzen, Barnard, Fee, Thomas, and White were sentenced to 60 months in prison. They were sentenced Wednesday.

All seven defendants were allegedly a part of a large-scale international financial fraud conspiracy. The fraud included romance scams through on-line dating sites, check fraud, secret shopper schemes, and personal assistant work-from-home schemes.

We’re told some of the defendants started as romance scam victims before later becoming knowing participants in the counterfeit check fraud. Victims were sent checks with mystery shopper and personal assistant instructions. The checks, which were counterfeit, would bounce after the victims transmitted proceeds to various locations in the United States which were then laundered for transmission to Nigeria.

Victims were then liable to their banks for the money.

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