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Financial Crimes

Georgia woman pleads guilty to fraud conspiracy

PITTSBURGH — A Georgia woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud conspiracy in connection with a so-called Nigerian "Mystery Shopper" scam. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Monica Mason, 49, of Lilburn, Georgia was involved in the scam along with her coconspirator, Shawn Foote, who 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 U.S. 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 Mason, Foote, and others. After these transactions, the money orders and checks were returned as counterfeit by the victims' banks. Victims were left to repay the bank from their own funds.

Mason faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced Nov. 6.