West Virginia Woman Facing Fraud Charges for Nigerian "Mystery Shopper" Scam
PITTSBURGH - A West Virginia woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of fraud conspiracy and wire fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The two-count indictment named Linda Walker, 60, as a defendant.
According to the indictment, Walker was involved in a Nigerian “Mystery Shopper” scam whereby she 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 Walker 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.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, 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 leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.