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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Pittsburgh Man Charged in Mystery Shopper Scam

PITTSBURGH, PA - A resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of fraud conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The three-count indictment, returned on August 1 and unsealed yesterday, named Robert Shon Jackson, 42, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the sole defendant.

According to the indictment, Robert Shon Jackson was charged with being involved in a "Mystery Shopper" scam. A "Mystery Shopper" scam occurs when a victim is falsely led to believe that they are being employed to evaluate retail and business services. They unwittingly receive a counterfeit Postal Money order or counterfeit check to provide the funds for their evaluation purchases. They negotiate the counterfeit instrument and then send a large portion of the proceeds to a person designated by the fraudsters usually by wire. By this time, the counterfeit instrument is returned to the bank and they are charged for the funds paid to them by the bank.

Jackson is alleged to have conspired with certain persons knowingly to prepare and address fraudulent mail containing the counterfeit instruments to victims, who believed they were acting as "mystery shoppers." The victims unwittingly received the counterfeit commercial and Postal money orders and checks and cashed them to make small purchases for purposes of evaluating the commercial services provided. The victims then wire transferred excess funds back to Jackson and other unwitting accomplices. After these transactions, the money orders and checks were returned as counterfeit by the victims’ banks and they were left to repay the bank from their own funds. Jackson then wired, or caused to be wired, a portion of the fraudulent proceeds to other persons overseas. The estimated loss associated with Jackson is approximately $42,744.46.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 60 years in prison, a fine of $750,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Hull is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated August 9, 2018