ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska man who was involved in a fraudulent check cashing scheme based in Nigeria was indicted on two federal counterfeiting charges, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Bradley J. Blodgett, 33, of Anchorage, Alaska, responded to an advertisement on Craigslist from someone seeking customer service assistance. He was initially told he would assist a company in processing its payroll documents.
According to court documents, the employer was in Nigeria and Blodgett was responsible for printing counterfeit checks and mailing them to various recipients throughout the United States. A man known only to him as "Werner" would give him the names and account numbers to put on the phony checks.
In addition, Blodgett received counterfeit checks from Nigeria and he sent them on to people who had been recruited on Craigslist. They were instructed to cash the check, keep a predetermined amount for themselves and wire the remaining amount to Blodgett.
After taking a portion for himself, Blodgett would wire the rest to his contact in Nigeria.
"This scheme was not only a crime against our nation's financial system, but an affront to members of the general public who responsibly tend to their fiscal matters," said Leigh Winchell, the special agent in charge who oversees ICE HSI's enforcement activities in Alaska. "We will continue to use our unique investigate authorities to uncover illegal financial transaction and bring the offenders to justice."
If convicted of the charges, Blodgett faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.