Last of seven admit running Nigerian scams

Anthony Shane Jeffers
Anthony Shane Jeffers

GULFPORT -- A man from Nigeria and another from Tennessee are the last of seven defendants to admit guilt in an Internet fraud case involving work-at-home and mystery shopper scams.

Funso Hassan, 27, of Ibadan, Nigeria, and Anthony Shane Jeffers, 44, accepted plea agreements Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport following a probe by Homeland Security Investigations.

Prosecutors in preparation for trial had filed documents showing the government had subpoenaed Yahoo, Google, Western Union and MoneyGram to provide emails, messages and money transfer records, court documents said.

A Nigerian scam requests help in sending money to someone else. The victim is usually asked to deposit a check, keep part of it, and wire the rest elsewhere; but the check deposited is counterfeit.

A bill of information said Hassan and Jeffers laundered money and committed the other crimes in South Mississippi and elsewhere from Aug. 11, 2014, through June 3.

Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit identity theft and theft of government property by using the Internet, mail and wire services to distribute ill-gotten money in racketeering enterprises.

Hassan will be sentenced July 11. He also faces deportation, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis said in a written statement.

Jeffers' sentencing is set for July 22.

Hundreds of victim workers, paid with bogus checks, unwittingly sent their own money to co-conspirators, records show.

The others who await sentencing are Ann Louise Franzen of Kiln; Gary Barnard, Shawn Ann White and Michele Gayle Fee, all of Manteca, Calif., and Tara Lynn Thomas of Turlock., Calif. Their sentencings are set for June 21.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams and Department of Justice trial attorneys who specialize in organized crime gangs, computer crimes and intellectual property crimes.