Seven members of $40 million international fraud conspiracy, which included everything from romance scams, to check fraud, to secret shopper schemes, to personal assistant work-from-home schemes, were sentenced last week in Gulfport, Miss.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, some of the seven defendants were originally romance scammers who later became involved in counterfeit check fraud. The victims of the scheme were sent counterfeit checks with mystery shopper/personal assistant instructions. The phony checks would bounce after money was transferred to various locations around the U.S. and then to Nigeria. The defrauded were then left on the hook for the amounts of the checks as well as bank fees.
The six Americans and one Nigerian were apprehended as the result of a joint investigation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Guilty parties, Funso Hassan, 27, of Ibadan, Nigeria and Anthony Shane Jeffers, 44, of Maryville, Tennessee, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ann Louise Franzen, 70, of Kiln, Mississippi; Gary Melvin Barnard, 64, of Palestine, Texas; Michele Gayle Fee, 55, of Stockton, California; Tanya Lynn Thomas, 52, of Turlock, California; and Shawn Ann White, 44,