METAIRIE MAN SENTENCED FOR HIS ROLE IN INTERNATIONAL COUNTERFEITING SCAM
BRIAN KENT, age 55, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. to 52 months in prison, followed by three (3) years of supervised release, and was ordered to repay $28,126.29 in restitution, for his role in conspiring to utter and possess over $1.4 million worth of counterfeit postal money orders and securities, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, since at least September 2009, KENT has been a part of an international ring of counterfeiters who distributed fake securities and monetary documents, including traveler’s checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders, to people throughout the United States through a fraudulent “Mystery Shopper” program. The Program involved contacting and ultimately, hiring unsuspecting “employees” who signed up via e-mail. The scheme required employees to receive securities (which, unbeknownst to the “employees” were counterfeit) via the mail and cash them at local banks and/or check cashing services. “Employees” were instructed to use a wire transfer service promptly after cashing the checks to transmit a portion, typically the overwhelming majority, of the money back to unnamed “employers” within the Program at designated locations. “Employees” were also instructed to submit a report or evaluation on the process. The putative purpose of the Program was to “test” the wire transfer company’s service. As payment, the “employees” of the Program were allowed to keep a portion of the funds from each cashed check. Subsequently, once the bank realized that the check was counterfeit, the counterfeit instrument bounced, leaving either the “employee” of the Program or the bank that cashed the instrument left with a loss for the amount cashed.
KENT, as a “Payee Supervisor” for the fraudulent program, received packages of the counterfeit securities, as well as lists of the names and contact information of individuals located throughout the United States to whom the checks should be sent, from individuals located in Nigeria and Turkey. KENT was responsible for sending each person on the list at least one of the counterfeit securities, and he knew that the securities were, in fact, fake.
According to court documents, KENT was apprehended on August 2, 2010, after he went to pick up a package of counterfeit postal money orders from the Federal Express office in Kenner, Louisiana. At that time, KENT was in possession of hundreds of counterfeit cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, Money Gram money orders, and postal money orders, totaling over $400,000.
Additionally, law enforcement authorities were able to intercept several batches of counterfeit materials that were sent to KENT before they were delivered to him. In all, the total amount of the counterfeit monetary instruments that were either intercepted on their way to KENT or that were in KENT’S possession at the time of his arrest on August 2, 2010 exceeded $1,400,000.
This case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Louisiana State Police. The prosecution of this case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org