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June 30, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - James Lewis Johnson, 58, was sentenced on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, by U. S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips, to serve 15 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release. Judge Phillips also ordered Johnson to pay restitution of $56,982.77 to the victims of Johnson's mail fraud scheme.

On Nov. 16, 2010, Johnson pled guilty to executing a mail fraud scheme in which he utilized a computer and printer to print counterfeit checks that he then mailed to victims who had offered items for sale on the Internet classifieds website "Craigslist". Johnson convinced the victims to wire transfer a portion of the funds back to him via Western Union or MoneyGram before the victims realized that the checks were counterfeit.

The filed plea agreement states that Johnson defrauded approximately 26 victims through the mail fraud scheme.

"Check counterfeiting schemes are a rampant problem due to the prevalence of computers and check writing software. Also, the ease of usage of the internet allows people with criminal intent, to solicit and scam a large number of victims. The U. S. Attorney's Office will continue to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law," said U. S. Attorney Bill Killian.

“Commerce benefits from deliveries made by the Postal Service, but any fraudulent scheme involving the U. S. Mail will not be tolerated, said Inspector in Charge Martin Phanco, U. S. Postal Inspection Service, Atlanta Division. "Mr. Johnson’s sentencing sends out a clear warning that mail fraud is taken seriously by postal inspectors, prosecuting attorneys, and judges."

This investigation was conducted by the U. S. Postal Inspection Service and Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Assistant U. S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris represented the United States.

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