A woman involved in a romance scam convinced family members to send her more than half a million dollars on behalf of a fake military officer, officials say.
Despite knowing she was involved in the scam, the 62-year-old woman continued to mail money to the people who deceived her, according to the Eastern District of Missouri U.S. Attorney’s Office.
She was caught lying to a federal official about money, leading to her arrest in 2021, officials said. On Thursday, February 16, she was sentenced to two years in prison, according to a press release.
Postal inspectors first became aware of the scam in April 2020 when they found two packages containing a total of $100,000 sent by the woman from Xenia, Ohio. Inspectors contacted her, and she admitted to “being defrauded by someone claiming to be a lieutenant general in the United States Army,” the US attorney’s office said.
But just three days later, she began persuading family members to give her money to send to the fake agent, officials said.
The woman was tricked into sending money “to aid in the alleged recovery of a wallet worth more than $20,000,000,” according to the indictment.
Relatives sent her more than $590,000 and the woman hatched a plan to attempt to thwart federal agents, the press release said.
“He sent multiple text messages to a postal inspector falsely claiming he needed money to buy posters and T-shirts to help find his missing 18-year-old niece,” according to the US Attorney’s Office. “(The woman) also sent links to news articles and Facebook stories about a missing Ohio teenager to get the inspector to act quickly.”
Federal agents learned he was sending the money to St. Louis PO boxes that were opened by the accused scammers. The $590,000 was sent to PO boxes over the course of three months, the press release said.
She admitted lying to the postal inspector and the FBI about the money, and pleaded guilty in August to making false statements to a federal agent, the US attorney’s office said.
As part of his plea deal, he admitted that he “intended to use the money for reasons he was withholding from the postal inspector,” according to an August news release.
Her charge carried a sentence of up to five years in prison, and U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Pitlyk ultimately sentenced her to two years.
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