FBI Cracks Shell Game Defrauding Egg Companies


FBI Cracks Shell Game Defrauding Egg Companies

Is there a fox in the henhouse?

The FBI has seized nearly $550,000 from a North Carolina woman’s bank account that allegedly has been tied to wire fraud.

The victim appears to be Noble Foods Inc. of Rogers, which operates as the Happy Egg Co., according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Alan Lee. Lee’s statement is attached to the civil lawsuit filed last month by the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

The messy case, which is still under investigation, started in March, when Woodland Partners Inc. of Walpole, Massachusetts, received emails, purportedly from its supplier, Happy Egg, which sells organic eggs from free-range hens.

The emails said that Happy Egg had changed its bank account and provided Woodland Partners with the new account number, Lee said.

Woodland followed the instructions and started sending Happy Egg’s payments to the new account, which, of course, was fake. And so the payments went until May.

Happy Egg, the real one, then wondered why Woodland had fallen nearly $1 million in arrears.

Woodland told Happy Egg that it had electronically paid the invoices to the new account, as it believed Happy Egg requested, Lee said.

It wasn’t long after that that the FBI was called, leading to the freezing of the suspicious bank account. At that time, the account had $546,627.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in its court filing that the money could be forfeited because it came from proceeds traced to wire fraud.

Neither Happy Egg nor Woodland Partners immediately returned a call for comment Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District declined to comment.