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Victims then owed their banks the amount of checks and often hundreds of dollars in bank fees.
In the past, con artists from Nigeria often pretended to be princes in trouble to get your personal information.
So essentially these textbooks companies were getting the merchandise stolen from 'em.
And in the end, they were spending their own money to purchase their own merchandise back," said Todd Williams, the Homeland Security agent.
The sentences are the maximum statutory penalty for the charges to which the defendants pleaded."Financial crimes and identity theft have a devastating effect on the victims and our financial institutions,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. “We will continue to aggressively investigate and bring to justice the criminal enterprises who perpetrate these financial crimes.”Parmer is the Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans field office with responsibility for Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee.
Ann Louise Franzen, 70, of Kiln, Mississippi; Gary Melvin Barnard, 64, of Palestine, Texas; Michele Gayle Fee, 55, of Stockton, California; Tanya Lynn Thomas, 52, of Turlock, California; and Shawn Ann White, 44, of Manteca, California, were each sentenced to five years in prison. Restitution to the victims for all defendants will be determined at a later date.
For one former government agent, that scam began with a woman showing up at his door. "The person told my wife that she had met me with my name" on a dating website. It all began with scripts blasted out on dating websites.
Prosecutors in Gulfport, Mississippi, recently took down one Nigerian crime ring that brought in million. I got a call from my wife that someone had come onto our property looking for me," said the agent, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity. What do you want me to do with the clothes, with the laptop I purchased? The former agent's name and location were used to reel in people looking for love all across the country.
"It would all start where they would purchase compromised credit card data. They would create thousands of American Express Serve prepaid accounts.
Once they were able to acquire those accounts, that in turn would become their infrastructure that they needed to be able to move their illicit proceeds," said Todd Williams.
"Over the last three years, we've seen a steady increase in cybercrime coming from the region.
Because they've been making money hand over fist with relatively little risk to themselves," Nunnikhoven said.