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Ontario woman sentence for her role in financial fraud scheme

STAFF REPORTS


BUFFALO -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Sheila Offor, 42, of Scarborough, Ontario, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was sentenced to serve a three year term of probation and ordered to pay restitution totaling $134,172.60 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who handled the case, stated that between July 2005 and May 2011, the defendant and others conspired to defraud individuals seeking loans and to obtain money from these individuals seeking loans.

In furtherance of the scheme, a number of individuals established websites for fictitious financial services companies offering to arrange loans to U.S. residents with credit problems. Applicants provided their names, phone numbers, state of residence, requested loan amount, and approximate credit scores. Applicants were then contacted by persons posing as company representatives and told that a lender would be contacted for approval. When informed that a loan was arranged, applicants were instructed to sign and return a loan agreement, provide bank account information, and pay an “insurance deposit” for the lender to process the loan. Applicants were provided wire instructions for the lender’s “insurance deposit,” including the name of the company representative (payee), the amount, date, and Western Union location.

Offor served as a payee in this scheme and traveled from Canada to the United States, picked up wired funds, and transported them back to Canada. The monies were then delivered to other individuals who were managing the scheme. Applicants never received the loans, but they were often coerced into making multiple deposits under various pretexts.

In total, the defendant received $134,172.60 in fraudulent “insurance deposits” from 77 different victims.

A total of 32 defendants were charged and convicted in this case.

Today’s sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy; the Canada Border Services Agency; and the Federal Trade Commission.

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