’Mastermind’ behind Cleveland Facebook scam sentenced to 6 years in prison, multiple fines

’Mastermind’ behind Cleveland Facebook scam sentenced to 6 years in prison, multiple fines
Zienup Sbeih-Maddox, 24, of Cleveland appears in court June 24, 2019. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The alleged “mastermind” involved in scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from mothers nationwide has been sentenced to six years in prison, probation and ordered to pay multiple fines.

The alleged “mastermind” involved in scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from mothers nationwide being sentenced. https://bit.ly/2Jdn3VG

Posted by Cleveland 19 News on Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Zienup Sbeih-Maddox was ordered by a judge to serve six years and six months in prison. She is also ordered to pay over $200,000 in fines and is going to have five years of probation after her prison sentence is served.

In June, Zienup Sbeih-Maddox plead guilty to her role in the Facebook scheme.

Beginning in August 2016, Sbeih-Maddox and Kimberly St. John-Stevenson created and operated a public Facebook page called “Zee’s Place” that, according to prosecutors, offered “too good to be true deals on items such as diapers, toys, car seats, and trips to Disney World.”

They said the page was targeted toward suburban moms in search of bargains.

Prosecutors say at least 200 people made purchases from Zee’s Place, using money orders, online payment apps, and gift cards as payment.

Many customers received at least their first “bargain” without any issue.

However, upon ordering and paying for additional “bargains,” they said Sbeih-Maddox and St. John-Stevenson “failed to remit the purchased items, instead offering delays and excuses and never returning the funds paid.”

According to investigators, Sbeih-Maddox and St. John-Stevenson transferred payments back and forth between multiple bank accounts “to disguise the nature and origin of the funds.”

A warrant for Sbeih-Maddox’s arrest was issued in July of 2017.

While she was on the run, prosecutor’s said her sister, Kirsten Laurie, moved “Zee’s Place” proceeds through her bank account to Sbeih-Maddox.

Laurie was charged with money laundering, receiving stolen property and obstructing justice.

Left to right: Zienup Sbeih-Maddox, Kim St. John-Stevenson, Kirsten Laurie
Left to right: Zienup Sbeih-Maddox, Kim St. John-Stevenson, Kirsten Laurie

She accepted a plea deal and was placed into a court diversion program.

In August 2018, Sbeih-Maddox was arrested on a fugitive warrant in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she had been living under an alias at youth homeless shelter.

In a separate case, Sbeih-Maddox was also charged grand theft, theft, and tampering with records related to public housing fraud.

Investigators say she was living in CMHA housing in Cleveland and paying less than $80 per month in rent while at the same time collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the “Zee’s Place” scam.

St. John Stevenson’s trial began Monday. She was indicted on a dozen felony charges, including aggravated theft, conspiracy and money laundering.

Sbeih-Maddox is expected to testify at St. John-Stevenson’s trial.

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