St. Robert Woman Sentenced for Nigerian Fraud Scheme, Cheated Thousands of Victims
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a St. Robert, Mo., woman was sentenced in federal court today for leading a Nigerian fraud scheme in which thousands of victims across the country were tricked into cashing up to $3 million in counterfeit money orders and cashier’s checks.
Lisa Kaye Barwick-Majeski, 56, of St. Robert, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to 12 years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Barwick-Majeski to pay $49,131 in restitution to her victims and a money judgment to the government of $1,485,301, representing the proceeds of the conspiracy. Barwick-Majeski was taken into custody immediately at the conclusion of today’s hearing to begin serving her sentence.
On March 10, 2015, Barwick-Majeski pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Barwick-Majeski admitted that she was the primary leader of a conspiracy that involved counterfeit postal money orders, counterfeit bank cashier’s checks and numerous wires to unindicted co-conspirators in the country of Nigeria.
Barwick-Majeski and her co-conspirators dispatched counterfeit postal money orders and bogus cashier checks to thousands of victims throughout the United States. These false money orders and cashier checks were deposited in victims’ bank accounts after the victims were duped into believing they were paid participants as part of a “secret shopper” exercise designed for them to evaluate Wal-Mart and various money wire outlets. The victims were instructed to keep approximately $200 or more of the less than $2,000 counterfeited postal money order or bogus cashier’s check, and immediately wire the remaining money to Barwick-Majeski and her co-conspirators. After a few days, the counterfeited money order or bogus cashier’s check would be returned against the victims’ account as not negotiable. The victims would then be obligated to pay their banks or their financial institutions for most of the money they wired to Barwick-Majeski and others.
Barwick-Majeski and her co-conspirators shared most of their proceeds with a group of Nigerians that were responsible for supplying Barwick-Majeski with fraudulent postal money orders and cashier’s checks.
During the course of the investigation, according to court documents, law enforcement officers seized more than $1.7 million worth of counterfeit postal money orders. Some of those counterfeit money orders were taken directly from Barwick-Majeski and some were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or intercepted en route to Barwick-Majeski.
In addition to the counterfeit postal money orders, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Barwick-Majeski’s residence on Nov. 5, 2013, and seized a parcel that contained 354 counterfeit BMO-Harris Bank cashier’s checks with a total face value of more than $1 million. According to court documents, law enforcement officers also seized $406,800 in counterfeit Mid Missouri Credit Union cashier’s checks during the investigation.
Co-defendants Nancy Madelen Peebles, 76 (Barwick-Majeski’s mother), Cheryl Barber, 42, and Terry L. Shupe, 40, (who lived together), and Kenneth Fred Ruhl, 88, all of St. Robert, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and been sentenced. Peebles was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison; Barber was sentenced to time served; Ruhl and Shupe were each sentenced to five years of probation. Peebles was ordered to pay $28,571 in restitution. Barber was ordered to pay $25,129 in restitution. Ruhl was ordered to pay $16,814 in restitution. Shupe was ordered to pay $2,796 in restitution.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the St. Robert, Mo., Police Department.