News and Press Releases

Defendant Drawn in to Criminal Conspiracy by Man She Met on Internet

June 25, 2008

EDNA FIEDLER, 44, of Olympia, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to two years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Commit Bank, Wire and Mail Fraud. FIEDLER pleaded guilty March 14, 2008, to playing a key role in attempting to defraud thousands of U.S. citizens through a scheme known as a “Nigerian Check Scam.” At sentencing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle told her, “the court needs to send a message that if you serve as a broker (in these internet counterfeit check schemes) you will be incarcerated.” He added that, “the schemes make money at the expense and suffering of others.”

According to records filed in the case, FIEDLER was contacted via email by a man she met on the Internet. In November 2007, that person shipped counterfeit checks and money orders from Lagos, Nigeria to FIEDLER. These documents were made to appear as though they were legitimate Walmart Money Orders, and Bank of America and United States Postal Service Checks, and American Express Travelers Checks. The co-conspirator in Nigeria sent emails telling FIEDLER how to fill out the checks and where to ship them. FIEDLER filled out and shipped to other people in the United States $609,000 in phony checks and money orders. Those people were to cash them and return a portion of the proceeds to FIEDLER or the person in Nigeria. Those who got the checks may not have realized they were fake, and thought they were assisting someone overseas. Instead once the checks were found to be phony, those who cashed them were on the hook for the full amount, including what had been sent to FIEDLER or the co-conspirator in Nigeria.

FIEDLER had received an additional $1,109,024 in phony checks and money orders that she was preparing to send out when agents executed a search warrant on her residence. FIEDLER was arrested December 18, 2007.

Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs described the importance of the role FIEDLER played in the scheme in his sentencing memo saying, “Edna Fiedler played a critical role in an international scheme to defraud naive individuals. The scheme was wide-reaching and potentially financially ruinous to its intended victims ... Moreover, Fiedler preyed on naive individuals while serving a term of supervision from a recent drug conviction.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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