Mother and daughter indicted for internet scam
A mother and daughter were recently indicted for their involvement with a "Nigerian internet romance scam." The duo helped a group of Nigerian scam artists trick 374 women into thinking they were corresponding with members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
According to ABC News, Tracy Vasseur, 40, and her 73-year-old mother, Karen Vasseur of Brighton, Colorado, took part in the scheme by wiring most of the money stolen from the victims to the Nigerian scammers, and keeping 10 percent for themselves.
This is a common type of scam among online dating sites and can threaten women's internet security. It involves Nigerian scammers misleading women to believe they are sending money for soldiers to retrieve property or travel to the U.S., among many other disingenuous stories.
"After a relationship was established, the purported military member would begin asking the victim to send money to an 'agent' in Colorado," the indictment reads, according to the media outlet. "Among other reasons, victims were frequently told that the money they sent would pay for satellite phones, so that the victim and the perpetrator could talk directly to each other, or for travel expenses, so that the 'soldier' could take authorized leave from duty to visit the victim in the U.S."
The amount money transferred was usually more than $10,000, and in some cases as much as $59,000. Since the Vasseurs have been at this scheme for approximately three years, they were able to steal $1 million in the process, the news outlet reports.
The Vasseurs were indicted of 20 counts in violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, money laundering and theft. If both are convicted of all counts, Tracy will be sentenced with 205 years in prison, and Karen will see 172 years, according to the news source.
The mother and daughter team did not make any contact with the victims themselves, but set up 20 personal and business accounts at 11 local banks to launder the stolen money, according to the New York Daily News. In addition, Tracy is accused of using her 16-year-old daughter to fraudulently receive stolen money and then wire it to Nigeria after the Western Union restricted Tracy's access.
It was reported that none of the victims had any of their money returned to them. The Vasseurs will appear in court for sentencing on Tuesday.