McHenry woman admits to 'secret shopper' scam
ROCKFORD – A McHenry woman pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to mail fraud in connection with engaging in a scheme involving work-at-home advertisements on the Internet.
Gloria Denise Ford, 45, admitted in court that from January through November 2011, she participated in a "secret shopper scheme," in which people applied to fraudulent online advertisements and believed they were being hired to work as a "secret shopper."
She mailed more than $1 million in counterfeit money orders to victims throughout the United States, receiving at least $12,000 as payment for her role in the scheme.
Ford faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, a period of supervised release of up to three years following imprisonment, and restitution.
Ford's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 9.
In a written plea agreement, Ford admitted that victims would receive a letter asking them to send an email to an email address contained in the letter. Victims also received counterfeit money and were instructed to deposit it into their accounts. Then they were instructed to withdraw a certain percentage, retain a percentage as payment for their services, and go to the nearest Western Union to transfer the proceeds.
"The victims were then instructed to report their experience, believing they were hired as secret shoppers to evaluate local businesses, and send their report via email to the email address contained in the letter," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
The victims who participated in the scheme received the counterfeit proceeds via the wire transfers before learning that it was fake.
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