Feds covering for paid FBI informant accused of running ‘stranded traveler’ scam
An FBI informant who helped nab three Florida ISIS supporters was a convicted fraudster who continued to swindle people while working with federal law enforcement, the Intercept reports.
Mohammed Agbareia became an FBI informant after a 2006 conviction on federal fraud charges in Alabama, according to the Sun Sentinel. His punishment was reduced by a federal judge in Alabama to one year in prison. That judge was reportedly “acting on a sealed recommendation from the government.”
Agbareia was allowed to remain in the U.S. on “deferred status” and in 2009, he was designated as “a national security asset” by the FBI. But despite this second chance, Agbareia continued his scamming ways.
As of May 30, Agbareia faces six new wire fraud charges, having continued to commit crimes after his designation “despite numerous warnings to cease.” Prosecutors allege Agbareia resumed operating a “stranded travel” fraud, where the criminal impersonates a victim and asks for money from the victim’s friends and family.
He faces 120 years in federal prison.
Despite Agbareia’s known history of crime, the FBI is stonewalling efforts by lawyers for one of three men targeted by the informant to obtain information about the informant.
Gregory Hubbard met Mohammed Agbareia in the West Palm Beach, Florida area sometime before April 2015, according to the Intercept’s Trevor Aaronson. Hubbard eventually told Agbareia of his desire to fight with ISIS in Syria, and introduced him t to Dayne Antani Christian, and Darren Arness Jackson, two people who shared Hubbard’s desire.
The four spend months planning how to join the terrorist organization and wage jihad. By July 2016, Hubbard and Agbreria had purchased tickets to Germany; Jackson, Hubbard and Christian were arrested en route to the airport. Lawyers for Hubbard, the only one who elected to go to trial, have been trying to unearth information about Agbreria.
According to the Intercept, despite a federal prosecutor acknowledging “certain portions” of Agbareia’s fraud case “relate to a matter of national security,” the government has refused requests by Hubbard’s defense team because that “trial is in late October.”
“We understand our obligations to turn it over,” federal prosecutor Edward Nucci told a federal judge of the disclosure material.
Hubbard’s defense lawyer, Vanessa Chen, said the information being withheld from the defense is “the catalyst and crux of their case.”
“Because this is a proactive prosecution on the part of the FBI, as opposed to a reactive one, that underscores the importance of the information regarding the confidential informant,” Chen told the judge.