Woman Sentenced for $6 Million “Mystery Shopper” Fraud Scheme
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Houston, Texas, woman was sentenced today to nearly 15 years in prison for her role in a $6 million fraud scheme involving “Mystery Shoppers.”
Timeiki Hedspeth, 39, was found guilty of nine charges by a federal jury on June 30, 2017. According to court documents, in 2012 federal law enforcement began an investigation into an extensive scheme that operated nationally and internationally, stemming from Nigeria. The investigation determined that participants in the scheme, including Hedspeth, recruited individuals throughout the United States via email to serve as “Mystery Shoppers,” in which the individuals would receive financial instruments, such as a cashier’s check or Postal money order, to evaluate the services of certain money transmission services, including Western Union and Money Gram. Once a recruited individual, or “Mystery Shopper,” responded to the email solicitation with interest, the conspirators would obtain personal identification information from the Mystery Shopper, which was then placed on the counterfeit cashier’s check or Postal money order. The conspirators would then mail the Mystery Shoppers a counterfeit cashier’s check or Postal money order for the Mystery Shopper to negotiate at their own bank, keeping a portion of the payment for their services. The Mystery Shopper would then wire the majority of the funds to conspirators or other recruited individuals who retrieved the transmitted funds and engaged in further distribution of the fraudulent proceeds. From 2010 - 2016, Hedspeth had millions of dollars worth of counterfeit checks and money orders emailed or shipped to her for distribution to Mystery Shoppers, and retrieved and forwarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from money transmission services.
Hedspeth was sentenced today to 175 months in prison. Several co-conspirators have also been sentenced, including: Toheeb Odoffin (90 months), Zoelithia Williams (100 months), Hafeez Odoffin (110 months), Habeeb Odoffin (120 months), and Christie Easter (130 months).
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, Michael K. Lamonea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk, Robert B. Wemyss, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and George Purefoy, Resident Agent in Charge of the Norfolk Resident Office, U.S. Secret Service, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian J. Samuels prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:16-cr-49.