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Couple Charged in $13 million Nigerian Scam

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on October 25, 2010 7:17 AM

A Fort Lauderdale couple has been charged with running a $13 million Nigerian scam using Craigslist for over a year in a rather complicated money scheme. MSNBC reports that Plenord and Sandra St. Fort were connected to the Nigerian mob.

MSNBC adds some key details to how the operation worked:

"Using classified ads and Craigslist, the St. Forts would offer jobs to victims looking to work as maids. The St. Forts and the victims would agree to a monthly salary. Soon a check would arrive but in an amount far in excess of the agreed salary. The unsuspecting victim was instructed to use the remainder of the money to pay rent to a landlord and otherwise manage the home."

Here's where it gets tricky -- the rent to the landlord was actually money being wired to the St. Forts (through a Nigerian bank account) and other members of the scam.

The operation was cashing in on twelve to fifty phony checks each day. Officials classified the operation as a "local franchise for the Nigerian mob." So what next for the $13 million Nigerian scam? The international operation, although much more complicated than a typical scam, is a form of fraud that prosecutors will seek to punish to the fullest extent.

Fraud is essentially any type of deceptive action taken for monetary or personal gain. Here, the action took place for over a year and took advantage of innocent victims looking for work. Fraud charges can carry both criminal and civil consequences and punishable by fines and prison time. At the time of the arrest, the couple was busy working in their home "office" producing more phony checks.

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