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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Attorney General Recognizes the District of North Dakota for Exceptional Work in Operation Hard Copy

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General William P. Barr today awarded the District of North Dakota with The Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention for Exceptional Work in Operation Hard Copy to Combat Fraud against the Elderly and Most Vulnerable at the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony, held at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, Washington, DC.  This annual ceremony honors employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people.  The Award for Fraud Prevention recognizes exceptional dedication and effort to prevent, investigate, and prosecute fraud, white collar crimes, and official corruption.  The District received the award for its work in “Operation Hard Copy”.

“Operation Hard Copy” targeted a transnational telemarketing advance-fee fraud scheme commonly known as the Jamaican Lottery Fraud.  The scheme was designed to prey on elderly and otherwise vulnerable victims and caused them to send their life savings to scammers operating overseas.  The District of North Dakota worked with law enforcement to spearhead a multi-year investigation resulting in the extradition of 14 Jamaican nationals and the successful prosecution of 31 defendants in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.  The investigation identified over 100 victims in 31 states and 97 cities across the United States, with reported losses in excess of $6 million.  Individual victims lost as little as $199 and as much as $850,000.  Nationwide, the number of victims targeted by scammers is likely in the millions, with estimates of annual losses in excess of $1 billion. 

“Our greatest strength in our fight for justice is our people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often at great personal sacrifice, to working for justice in America, said Attorney General William P. Barr. “As we reflect on the contributions of each of the 357 individuals we honor today, we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and the qualities exhibited throughout the Department.”

“This award recognizes many years of arduous investigative and prosecutorial work, and it highlights the nationwide impact of toppling a fraudulent enterprise responsible for taking millions of dollars from victims all across North Dakota and the United States,” said Unites States Attorney Drew H. Wrigley.  “These fraudsters were stopped in their tracks and scores of potential victims were protected up ahead.  This marks the very first time that a North Dakota case has been selected for the prestigious Attorney General’s Award and this team will be commemorated in our office, in a place of honor.”

This marks the first-ever Attorney General’s Award presented to the District of North Dakota.  Only one Award for Fraud Prevention was given this year.  Other awards presented at this year’s program honor Department employees, and federal, state, local, and tribal partners, for their selfless efforts protecting national security and civil rights, addressing rising violent crime and pursuing gang trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings.  The awards also honor the work of civil and environmental litigators, who enforce the rule of law and uphold the Constitution.  The awards also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save taxpayer dollars and help the government operate more effectively and efficiently, among other contributions to public safety and good governance.  Recipients include 295 Department employees, and 62 other individuals outside of the Department, for their distinguished public service.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S AWARD FOR FRAUD PREVENTION RECIPIENTS:

Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the District of North Dakota:

Nicholas W. Chase

Jonathan J. O’Konek

James Patrick Thomas

Legal Assistants from the District of North Dakota:

Renita A. Berger

Trina M. Gilhooly

Jacqueline K. Haag

 Paralegal Specialist from the District of North Dakota:

Leigh A. Johnson

Victim/Witness Specialists from the District of North Dakota:

Beth M. Lang

Dimple A. Smith

Trial Attorneys, Fraud Section Criminal Division, Washington DC:

Leila E. Babaeva

Lorinda I. Laryea

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bismarck, Minneapolis Division:

 Special Agent Francis W. Gasper

 U.S. Marshals Service, Investigative Operations Division:

 Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Henry E. Geberth III

 U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division:

Postal Inspector B. Scott Horne

 

Component(s): 
Contact: 
Terry W. Van Horn - terry.vanhorn@usdoj.gov - 701-297-7400
Updated October 23, 2019