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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Georgia Woman Pleads Guilty In Mystery Shopper Scam

PITTSBURGH - A Georgia woman pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of fraud conspiracy, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Monica Mason, 49, of Lilburn, Ga., pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

In connection with the guilty plea, Mason was involved in a Nigerian “Mystery Shopper” scam whereby her coconspirator Shawn Foote knowingly prepared and addressed fraudulent mail containing counterfeit instruments to victims, who believed they were acting as mystery shoppers. The victims unwittingly received the counterfeit commercial and Postal money orders and checks and cashed them to make small purchases for purposes of evaluating the commercial services provided. They then wire transferred excess funds back to Mason, Foote, and others. After these transactions, the money orders and checks were returned as counterfeit by the victims’ banks and they were left to repay the bank from their own funds.

Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for Nov. 6, 2014 at 10 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Hull is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Monica Mason.

Updated July 14, 2015