DOJ SealDepartment of Justice

United States Attorney Rebecca A. Gregory
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT:  DAVILYN WALSTON
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2009                                   PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe                         PHONE: (409) 839-2538 CELL: (409) 553-9881



            TEXARKANA, TX – U.S. Attorney Rebecca A. Gregory announced today that a 48-year-old Nash, Texas woman has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges in the Eastern District of Texas.

            MARIAN HARRIST pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud today before U.S. District Judge David Folsom. 

            According to information presented in court, Harrist and unknown coconspirators created a scheme to defraud people who were selling items over the internet.  Harrist would search Internet classified web sites for merchandise or services for sale.  The Defendant and others would contact the sellers by email and offer to buy the merchandise or service and would send the seller a counterfeit bank check or counterfeit money order in an amount higher than the selling price of the merchandise/service.  The seller was unaware that the check or money order was counterfeit.  Once the seller received the counterfeit check or money order, defendant would ask the seller to wire the difference between the item's/service's sale price and the counterfeit check's excess amount to the defendant to cover expenses related to the purchase.  The seller would deposit the counterfeit check/money order into his/her account, and then wire the requested amount to the Defendant.  The seller would then be held responsible for any loss attributable to the counterfeit check or money order.  Harrist was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 7, 2008.    

            Harrist faces up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing.  A sentencing date has not been set.

            This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Service and the Nash Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Simpson.


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