Pair charged with operating bogus shipping company

by Associated Press

Published: June 6,2013

Tags: accusation, arrest, bench, charge, court, crime, fraud, judge, justice, law, law enforcement, legal, shipping

BILOXI — Two people charged with running a fraudulent shipping company in south Mississippi are scheduled for arraignment next week in federal court.

Dustin Lee Griswold and Jennifer Griswold were indicted May 14 on fraud charges related to their business, Harmoni Shipping in Biloxi. The indictment doesn’t describe the relationship between the two.

Court records didn’t list an attorney for them. A number for the company was disconnected.

The indictment says the Griswolds solicited business by purporting to be an international shipping company and asking customers for payments up front. Then they would hire a third party, like UPS, to ship the goods, but prosecutors say they never had any intention of paying the third party that actually did the work.

Prosecutors say the alleged scheme operated from March to July of 2009.

In a case described in the indictment, the Griswolds allegedly told a company called AWM Transportation that Harmoni Shipping owned multiple trucks and could move their goods across the country.

Around the same time, prosecutors say, they told UPS that Harmoni Shipping owned barges and moved ocean freight, but needed someone to ship the goods on land.

AWM Transportation hired Harmoni Shipping, but Harmoni Shipping used UPS to move the products, the indictment says.

When UPS tried to collect $29,000 in unpaid bills from Harmoni Shipping, Dustin Griswold told UPS that Harmoni Shipping was waiting for payment from AWM Transportation, which he knew was not true, the indictment said.

Later, Jennifer Griswold allegedly told UPS the check was in the mail. When UPS didn’t receive the check, she told UPS that “their house had been broken into, all their checks had been stolen, and their bank account had been frozen,” according to the indictment.

A few days later, Dustin Griswold told UPS that someone had erased the files on his computer and stolen his checkbook, the indictment says.

They’re also accused of trying to solicit money from AWM Transportation by saying that AWM Transportation’s freight was “being held for ransom on the side of the road,” the indictment says.

Arraignment is set for July 13 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

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