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Press Release

Ontario Man Pleads Guilty For His Role In International Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Sheldon Hurley, 39, of Markham, Ontario, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who handled the case, stated that between May 2007 and July 2011, the defendant conspired with Afiya Stoddart, Sherece Payne, Ashley Cain, Luna Noncent, and others to defraud loan applicants, and fraudulently to obtain money and property from loan applicants.

The scheme involved a number of individuals in Canada operating websites for fictitious financial services companies which offered to arrange loans to U.S. residents with credit problems. Applicants provided their names, phone numbers, state of residence, requested loan amount, and approximate credit scores. They were then contacted by persons posing as Company “representatives” (using fictitious names), and told that a lender would be contacted for approval. When informed that a loan was arranged, applicants were instructed to sign and return a loan agreement, provide bank account information, and pay an “insurance deposit” for the lender to process the loan. Each applicant was provided wire instructions for the lender’s “insurance deposit,” including the name of the Company representative (payee), the amount, date, and Western Union location. Hurley engaged other individuals in the U.S. and Canada to act as Company “payees.” Some traveled from Canada to the United States, picked up wired funds, and transported them back to Canada. Others, residents of the U.S., picked up funds at Western Union locations in the U.S. and sent the cash to the defendant in Canada, via DHL courier services. Applicants never received the loans, but they were often coerced into making multiple “deposits” under various pretexts.

During the course of this scheme, the defendant recruited Afiya Stoddart and Sherece Payne to travel to Western Union locations in Buffalo, NY and elsewhere to pick up funds from victims of this scheme who sent “insurance deposits” to the fraudulently established companies.

Afiya Stoddart, Sherece Payne, Ashley Cain, and Luna Noncent were previously convicted and sentenced.

The plea is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 27, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Wolford. 

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Updated May 9, 2019

Financial Fraud