Toledo mother and son charged for Internet-based fraud, sending money to Nigeria
A mother and son from Toledo were charged for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud people out of tens of thousands of dollars and then launder the stolen money, said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Criminal informations were filed charging Patsy A. Schmidt, 53, and Bradley Schmidt, 22, with one count of conspiracy to launder money and one count of money laundering.
Patsy Schmidt fraudulently obtained nearly $50,000 between 2010 and 2013, while Bradley Schmidt fraudulently obtained nearly $24,000 between 2012 and 2013, according to the charges.
According to the charges:
The Schmidts and other co-defendants targeted people selling items on sites such as Craigslist.com. They sent emails to these people expressing interest in an item for sale when they had no intention of buying it.
The Schmidts and others stated to the seller that they would use PayPal to send the cost of the item plus an additional fee to cover the cost of a pick-up agent, transfer agent, shipping or hauling. The defendants then requested the victims wire the fee to the pick-up agent via Western Union or MoneyGram. The pick-up agent was identified as Patsy Schmidt, Bradley Schmidt or one of the other co-conspirators.
The Schmidts and others then used email addresses that resembled PayPal email accounts and wrote emails falsely stating that the purported buyer had placed money into the victim’s PayPal account. They stated the money would not be available until after the victim sent verification of a money transfer for the so-called pick-up agent’s fee.
Once the victim sent verification that the money had been sent, the Schmidts ceased communication and kept the money that had been wired to them. Money was wired to the Toledo area from Massachusetts, Oregon, Texas, Washington and elsewhere.
The Schmidts then wired the proceeds of the fraud to co-conspirators in Nigeria and retaining a portion of the money for themselves.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal record, if any, the defendants’ role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
The investigating agency in this case is the United States Secret Service, in Toledo, Ohio. The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Noah P. Hood.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.