Guilty Plea In International Internet Conspiracy Case
Gulfport, Miss – Genoveva Farfan one of twenty-one defendants indicted in a nine-count federal indictment filed in the Southern District of Mississippi against defendants in Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, Indiana, California, New York and Wisconsin, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis.
Farfan, 46, of Los Angeles, California, entered the guilty pleas before United States District Judge Sul Ozerden Monday May 16, 2016. Farfan faces a maximum of five years in prison, $250,000 fine and three years of post-release supervision for the conspiracy and an additional 4 years for two counts of aggravated identity theft. Farfan admitted an on-line relationship led to mailing hundreds of counterfeit checks in an advance fee scheme and receiving and using the numerous victims’ personal identifying information and credit card information.
The indictment alleges a West African transnational organized crime enterprise involved in numerous complex financial fraud schemes over the internet. This mass marketing fraud includes romance scams, re-shipping scams, fraudulent check scams and work-at-home scams, along with bank, financial and credit card account take-overs. Potential victims can find information and a claim form on the website for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi at: http://www.justice.gov/usao/mss/scams.
The investigation was initiated in October, 2011, by Homeland Security Investigations agents in Gulfport after U.S. law enforcement officers were contacted by a female victim in Mississippi who was the victim of a sweetheart scam. The victim received a package in the mail requesting that she reship cell phones to an address in Pretoria, South Africa. The investigation later revealed that the cell phones were purchased using stolen personal identity and credit card information of persons in the United States. Investigators have identified hundreds of victims of this scam in the United States, resulting in the loss of millions of U.S. dollars.
The indictment is the result of an investigation led by the HSI Gulfport office in partnership with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, South African Police Service, Toronto Police, HSI Cyber Crimes Center, Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture, HSI Ontario, HSI Charleston, Interpol South Africa, HSI Pretoria and HSI Atlanta.
The Department of Justice Office of International Affairs assisted in the provisional arrests of ten defendants in Pretoria, South Africa. Another defendant was arrested in Toronto, Canada, the remaining defendants were arrested in the United States.
The case in Mississippi is prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams and main Justice Trial Attorneys Peter V. Roman of the Computer Crimes Intellectual Property Section and Conor Mulroe of Organized Crime Gang Section.