Woman Gets Two Years for Aiding Nigerian
Internet Check Scam
Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service
Wed Jun 25, 8:30 PM ET
A Washington woman was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison and five
years of supervised release for her role in an Internet counterfeit check
Edna Fiedler pleaded guilty in March to attempting to defraud U.S. citizens in
a scheme known as a Nigerian check scam.
Fiedler helped her accomplices in Nigeria send fake checks to people who had
agreed to cash the checks on behalf of the sender, keeping some of the proceeds
and sending the rest back.
The Nigerians found people willing to cash the fake checks via e-mail. They
would send their names as well as fake documents that looked like Wal-Mart
money orders, Bank of America checks, U.S. Postal Service checks and American
Express traveler's checks to Fiedler. They told her how to fill out the checks
and where to send them.
The recipients most likely thought they were helping out someone who needed a
person in the U.S. to cash a check for them, according to the U.S. Department
of Justice. They were able to get the money by cashing the checks, and sent
most of it to either Fiedler or her Nigerian accomplices. However, once the
checks were discovered to be fake, the people who cashed them were responsible
for the full amount.
All told, Fiedler sent out US$609,000 worth of phony checks and money orders.
When U.S. Secret Service agents investigating the case searched Fiedler's
house, they found additional fake checks worth more than $1.1 million that she
was preparing to send out.
At a recent conference in Seattle, a representative from the U.S. Postal
Service and Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna described ways
they're working to shut down these kinds of scams, particularly because they
often involve people who don't realize that they're taking part in illegal
The U.S. Postal Service recently sent 15 postal investigators to Lagos,
Nigeria, and during a three-month period there, they helped intercept
counterfeit checks, lottery tickets and eBay overpayment schemes with a face
value of $2.1 billion, Chris Siouris, a cyber investigator at the U.S. Postal
Inspector, said at the recent conference. Siouris, McKenna and others are
pushing for ways to better educate Internet users so that people don't
unwittingly help out in these kinds of e-mail scams.