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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Sentenced in Mystery Shopper Fraud Scheme

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

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 4 years of probation and ordered to pay $28,461 in restitution on his conviction for fraud conspiracy, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Robert Shon Jackson, 45, of Pittsburgh, PA 15221, as the sole defendant.

Previously, in connection with Jackson’s guilty plea, the court was advised that that from around June 2013 to around October 31, 2013, Jackson participated in a Nigerian “mystery shopper” fraud scheme in which victims were falsely led to believe that they were being employed to anonymously evaluate products and services. After being recruited by the fraudsters, the victims unwittingly received counterfeit U.S. Postal Service money orders and checks, which they believed were provided to fund their evaluation purchases. The victims were told to deposit the instruments, keep a small portion of the funds for themselves, and wire the remainder to another individual who they believed was another mystery shopper, but was in actuality a co-conspirator. The counterfeit instruments were later returned to the bank, and the victims were charged for the funds they had deposited and additional fees.

The court was further advised that Jackson was mailed bulk shipments of counterfeit USPS money orders sent from overseas, approximately 1,820 money orders in total, valued at approximately $1,787,771.40, along with counterfeit checks. Jackson also received mailing labels with the names and addresses of victims to whom he was to send the counterfeit instruments. Jackson would mail counterfeit money orders and checks to the victims along with “mystery shopper” instructions directing them to check their email accounts for additional instructions. The victims would be emailed instructions to wire funds to Jackson, his wife, and other accomplices. Jackson used false return names and addresses on the mailings of counterfeit instruments. Jackson would then receive funds from the victims by wire, then himself wire a portion of the proceeds to co-conspirators in Nigeria. Jackson kept a portion of the funds as his payment. The losses associated with Jackson’s offense totaled $28,461.

Assistant United States Attorney David Lew prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Jackson.

Updated July 16, 2021

Financial Fraud