Former western union and moneygram agents indicted on federal telemarketing fraud charges
The United Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a federal grand jury in Harrisburg indicted five persons on charges of laundering money paid by victims of international telemarketing fraud schemes.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the indictment charged Betty Agho, Itohan Agho-Allen, Prince Edosa, Kennedy Onaiwu, and Susan Osagiede with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, four counts of mail fraud and fourteen counts of wire fraud.
According to the indictment, all five defendants were agents of Western Union and/or Moneygram outlets in New York and New Jersey, and had been recruited to process money transfers received from victims of fraud.
The indictment alleges that between April 2004 and November 2010, money transfers originating in locations in Pennsylvania, including York, Bloomsburg, Berwick, Hazleton, Lebanon, Chambersburg, East Stroudsburg and Montoursville, were transmitted through facilities in New York, Canada and Nigeria.
According to the indictment, money in excess of three million dollars was obtained from hundreds of victims throughout the United States through schemes that falsely promised financial awards and other valuable items. The alleged schemes included sweepstakes, loans, employment opportunities, persons-in-need and internet purchases.
The defendants allegedly entered fictitious identifying information into the Western Union and Moneygram computer systems, thereby disguising the true nature of the transaction and the identities of individuals perpetrating the frauds.
The scheme allegedly included the use of mail, wire and bank transfer facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Canada and Nigeria.
Agho, age 39; Agho-Allen, age 37; Edosa, age 41; and Osagiede, age 38, are all from Brooklyn, New York. Onaiwu, age 41, is from Irvington, New Jersey.
Three of the defendants were arrested during the past week. Detention hearings were held in Harrisburg before United States District Court Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser for Agho and Onaiwu. Agho was ordered to be detained. Onaiwu was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Agho-Allen is scheduled for arraignment on April 4, 2011.
The case is part of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Prosecution has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Christy H. Fawcett.
Persons with information and/or complaints concerning suspected marketing fraud schemes should contact their nearest United States Post Office or 1-877-USMAIL-5.
An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.
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