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Article updated: 10/30/2012 7:47 PM

McHenry woman sentenced to 5 years for 'secret shopper' scheme

By Marie Wilson

A 45-year-old McHenry woman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison for her role in a scam involving fraudulent money orders and victims who believed they were acting as "secret shoppers."

Gloria Denise Ford pleaded guilty to mail fraud in July, admitting she received counterfeit money orders from Nigeria, the United Kingdom and France, then sent them to victims who deposited and wire-transferred the funds as if the money orders were real, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Prosecutors said Ford mailed more than $1 million in counterfeit money orders to people throughout the United States and received at least $12,000 in payment.

Victims were told to keep a percentage of the counterfeit money orders and wire-transfer a percentage to participants in the scheme at the nearest Western Union, prosecutors said.

They also were instructed to report on their experiences and made to believe they were hired to secretly evaluate local businesses.

Others involved in the scheme emailed Ford a "secret shopper" letter to send to the victims, along with the counterfeit money orders ranging from $800 to $1,000 each, prosecutors said.

Ford also was ordered to pay back $68,922 to the victims and serve three years of supervised release after imprisonment.

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