Texas Scammer Accused of Laundering $300K
By Grace Austin
A serial scammer in Texas accused of laundering thousands stolen from victims of her email scams could potentially be a victim of catfishing herself.
A Texas woman was arrested at a Mexican restaurant where she worked in October 2019. She was taken to jail and then released on bond.
Police say she stole and laundered more than $300,000 from victims over the course of a few months in her latest fraud scheme.
The Texas woman is accused of carrying on “romance scams” with two women, who both sent her money orders. The women thought they were in a romantic relationship with her online. One of the victims sent almost $10,000.
Another woman was the victim of a rental scam. She sent the suspect a cashier’s check for tens of thousands of dollars that she thought was going toward a down payment on a property.
The woman first came under investigation in March 2019 after a teller at a local bank noticed a “strange transaction” involving her account, according to court documents.
Officials say the suspect would receive the funds from the online scams, withdraw the money in cash, then mail the money to foreign accounts.
The Texas woman told officials she did scam the women, according to a local TV station, and “she agreed that she was doing something illegal.” She also claimed to send some of the scammed money to a person in the United Arab Emirates.
In 2017, she was arrested for duping an elderly man in Indiana out of $60,000 in another online romance scam. According to court documents, the man told police his online “girlfriend,” whom he thought lived in Virginia, said she was about to inherit an $80 million estate from her late husband, but she needed money to pay attorney fees to receive the cash. The suspect was caught on surveillance video depositing the check he sent at an Abilene bank. She pleaded guilty to exploitation of an elderly individual in August 2019 and was given 10 years of probation for that crime.
At the time, she said she wired the money to a man in the United Arab Emirates whom she believed was her boyfriend but had never met in person. She was able to show detectives “evidence of these transactions” and messages with the person she thought was her boyfriend, according to court documents. It’s unclear if the most recent money she received from the scams and sent to the UAE was to the same person she previously sent funds other times.
Both romance and rental scams have become one of the main online fraud schemes that criminals use to siphon money from victims.