MoneyGram/Western Union Agent Receives 15 Year Federal Prison Sentence For Telemarketing Fraud Scheme
A corrupt MoneyGram/Western Union agent was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison today, the United Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced. Itohan Agho-Allen, of Brooklyn, New York, was convicted by a federal jury in Harrisburg of charges of laundering money paid by victims of international telemarketing fraud schemes following a six-day trial in July, 2013.
Chief U.S. Court District Judge Christopher C. Conner also ordered Agho-Allen to pay restitution of $2,371,668, and a special assessment of $2,300 and to serve a three-year term of supervised release.
Agho-Allen was convicted of criminal conspiracy, 8 counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Agho-Allen, age 39, was an agent of Miracle Multi-Link, a MoneyGram and Western Union outlet in Brooklyn, New York and had been recruited to process money transfers received from fraud schemes including sweepstakes, loans, employment opportunities, persons-in-need and internet purchases.
Between 2002 and November 2010, money transfers originating in locations in Pennsylvania, including York, Bloomsburg, Berwick, Hazleton, Lebanon, Chambersburg, East Stroudsburg and Montoursville, were transmitted through facilities to fraud participants in Brooklyn, Spain, Romania, Canada and Nigeria. Money in excess of $7 million was obtained from hundreds of victims throughout the United States through telemarketing schemes that falsely promised financial awards and other valuable items.
At trial the Government presented evidence that Agho-Allen entered fictitious identifying information into the Moneygram or Western Union computer systems disguising the true nature of the transaction and the identities of individuals perpetrating the frauds. For doing so, Agho-Allen was paid 10-15% of each transaction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Fawcett, the Government trial attorney, noted that, “The money launderer is crucial to the success of the international fraud scheme because she conceals from victims and law enforcement who is behind the fraud and where the money is going.”
Agho-Allen was indicted in March 2011 and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
To-date, approximately 33 former MoneyGram and Western Union agents have been prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Harrisburg. Several of them testified as Government witnesses at Agho-Allen’s trial. In addition, in November 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with MoneyGram which resulted in the forfeiture of $100 million to be used to compensate thousands of victims.
This case is part of an on-going, long-term investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and with cooperation from Canadian law enforcement agencies.
David W. Bosch, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, said, “This 15-year sentence reflects the damaging impact of international mass marketing frauds against primarily U.S. citizens. It should act as a deterrent to those who would prey on the most vulnerable segments of our society.”
Prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Christy H. Fawcett.
Persons who believe they were victims of the fraud scheme should visit http://www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/ or call 1-877-282-2610 (United States Only) or 317-324-0390 (International) for instructions on how to request compensation.
Persons with information and/or complaints concerning suspected marketing fraud schemes should contact their nearest United States Post Office or 1-877-USMAIL-5.