Two women indicted in mystery shopping scam

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A West Virginia woman and a Georgia woman were indicted today in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, charged with fraud conspiracy and wire transfer violations, for roles in a scheme that, prosecutors said, turned would-be mystery shoppers into pawns in a Nigerian counterfeiting scam.

Linda Walker, 60, of Oak Hill, W.Va., and Monica Mason, 48, of Lilburn, Ga., received counterfeit money orders that were printed in bulk in Nigeria, according to federal prosecutors.

The two then distributed the money orders to people who had expressed interest in being "mystery shoppers," according to the indictments and press releases from U.S. Attorney David Hickton's office.

The recipients were instructed to cash the money orders at their banks, and to then write a report on the bank's customer service, according to prosecutors. Then they were to buy something, write a report on that experience, take a fee, and send the remainder of the money back by wire, prosecutors indicated.

When the banks sought the sources of the counterfeit cash, the would-be mystery shoppers were forced to pay them back, according to Mr. Hickton's office.

Ms. Walker is to be arraigned on April 8, and Ms. Mason on April 10.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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