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Financial Crimes
06/22/2012

ICE busts frozen chicken feet fraud

NEW ORLEANS — A 25-year-old Cameroon citizen is in federal custody on wire fraud charges related to a fraudulent scheme to sell frozen chicken feet, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Louisiana State University Police Department.

Terence Ndangoh, currently a resident of Baton Rouge, La., is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.

"Our investigation revealed that Mr. Ndangoh set up a false company in order to fraudulently accept commercial quantity orders of frozen chicken feet from thirteen different customers," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "In fact, the defendant collected more than $160,000 from these customers with no intention of filling their orders. While he may have been able to fool his victims, HSI agents were able to unravel the scheme and ensure he will be held accountable for his actions."

Parmer oversees HSI activities in Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.

According to the indictment, Ndangoh used the Internet to promote and solicit the sale of frozen food items under the name Frozen Foods LLC, although Ndangoh did not possess or have access to said items to sell in the event orders were actually received. Prospective buyers contacted Frozen Foods via email in order to obtain more information about the product and/or place orders. Ndangoh replied to buyers' inquiries by transmitting photographs of purported food products, business licenses, permits and other business certifications, to legitimize the business in an effort to consummate the sale. Once price, quantity and other details had been negotiated, Ndangoh emailed the buyers an invoice with wiring instructions for payment, and sometimes, a sale and purchase agreement. The buyers subsequently wired payment for the orders from his/her banking account to another bank account at Ndangoh's direction. Ndangoh never filled the orders, or arranged for the goods to be shipped, even though he had received payment.

If convicted, Ndangoh faces a maximum sentence of 140 years in federal prison, a 1.4 million dollar fine and restitution of approximately $166,000. An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

HSI and the Louisiana State Police Department continue to investigate the scheme, as agents believe that others were involved in helping Ndangoh design and execute the fraudulent activity.