Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

July 30, 2013

Kosciusko County police arrest two women in connection with Nigerian money scam

GOSHEN — Two Illinois women allegedly involved in a Nigerian scam have been arrested by Kosciusko County sheriff’s detectives.

Arrested were Desiree Starlette Blackburn, 20, and Barbara Ickes, 39, of Harvard, Ill., on their alleged involvement on a large-scale check scam.

Detectives were recently contacted by a local resident who believed he was being scammed on a fraudulent transaction. Officers investigated the provided check and discovered that it was part of a well-known international scam. Detectives said they followed the trail to the fraudulent check back to Ickes at her residence in Illinois.

At that location, according to Kosciusko County Public Information Officer Chad Hill, officers said they located an elaborate check-printing process with fictitious banking institutions along with a list of several other potential victims throughout the country.

Hill said Ickes also provided detectives information that implicated Blackburn and her involvement in the scheme that allegedly began in October of 2012 when they reportedly began forwarding money to a Nigerian location.

Detectives seized equipment and computers at the scene that are now being analyzed by the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes Unit.

Kosciusko County Sheriff’s detectives also shared information uncovered from this arrest with the U.S. Secret Service agents to determine if federal authorities can continue the investigation further.

Blackburn and Ickes were preliminarily charged with felony corrupt business influence and control, along with felony attempted theft. Ickes was also additionally charged with felony forgery. Both women are being held in the Kosciusko County Jail in lieu of individual $20,000 bonds.

Assisting Kosciusko County detectives in their investigation were Harvard, Ill., police and the Kosciusko County prosecutor’s office.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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