Six U.S. citizens and a Nigerian national were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison for their roles in online fraud schemes that distributed more than $40 million in counterfeit checks using “mystery shopper” websites and work-from-home scams. The criminal enterprise was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Funso Hassan, 27, of Ibadan, Nigeria and Anthony Shane Jeffers, 44, of Maryville, Tennessee, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. 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.
In addition to the prison sentences, U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., of the Southern District of Mississippi sentenced each defendant to three years supervised release following completeion of their sentences. Restitution to the victims for all defendants will be determined at a later date. 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. Parmer, Jr. “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.