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US charges 80 in internet fraud and money laundering scheme

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US authorities on Thursday announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.

Federal prosecutors unsealed the dozens of indictments after 17 people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.

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Most of the remainder of those indicted were believed to be in Nigeria, the US Justice Department said.

The suspects allegedly targeted the lovelorn, the elderly, and small and large businesses, using a variety of scams to persuade their victims to send money over the internet.

“Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly,” the Justice Department said.

The indictment alleges that at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds were transferred through a money-laundering network run by two Nigerians — Valentine Iro, 33, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38.

They were among those arrested.

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Attempted thefts amounted to at least $40 million, it said.

“Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims,” said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.

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Ex-FBI official mocks GOP defenses of Trump: ‘No one says I’ll walk through the terms of our bribery!’

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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Tuesday roasted Republicans who claimed that President Donald Trump must be innocent because no witnesses so far have explicitly said that the president is guilty of bribery.

After watching a clip of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) asserting that neither Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman nor State Department official Jennifer Williams had used the word "bribery" in their testimonies, McCabe mocked the GOP lawmaker for apparently believing that the only way to prove bribery occurred was to have someone admit to the bribe.

"Over the course of many years investigating organized crime, and listening to many conversations in which organized crime figures would try to bend inferiors or victims to their will, no one ever says, 'I'm going to offer you a quid pro quo,' or 'Here's how I'll walk you through the terms of our bribery.' What you have, the person with the power uses that power to coerce the subservient person to do or produce whatever it is they want."

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Democrats are not ‘censoring’ Donald Trump — his increasingly desperate staff is doing that

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On Friday, Donald Trump, with his usual sociopathic levels of impulsiveness, thought it wise to commit another likely impeachable offense in the middle of a hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. As former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified to Trump's bizarre, unethical and abusive behavior, he took to Twitter to lambast her in real time, claiming that everywhere she had been posted "turned bad" and personally blaming her for the civil war in Somalia, which is the epitome of a baseless accusation. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the act "witness intimidation".

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Taliban release two Western hostages in Afghanistan

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The Taliban handed two Western hostages over to US forces in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, three years after they were abducted, in a swap for three high-ranking insurgent prisoners that could boost peace talks.

The exchange of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks for the militants -- including Anas Haqqani, brother to the Taliban's deputy leader -- was welcomed by both the United States and the insurgents.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the releases "give us hope for the success of intra-Afghan peace negotiations, which the United States stands ready to support."

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