- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

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 Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1Nc4Iln ) 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.


Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide