West Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty In Mystery Shopper Scam
PITTSBURGH - A West Virginia woman pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of fraud conspiracy, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Linda Walker, 60, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.
In connection with the guilty plea, Walker was involved in a Nigerian “Mystery Shopper” scam whereby she knowingly prepared and addressed fraudulent mail containing 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. They then wire transferred excess funds back to Walker and others. 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.
Judge Bissoon scheduled sentencing for June 5, 2015, at 11 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, 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 Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of Linda Walker.