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TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010

BOSTON, Mass. - A Pittsburgh woman was arrested today in connection with a scheme to defraud commercial advertisers and exhibitors out of fees for fake bridal conventions and magazines advertised in Boston and other cities across the country.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Richard DesLauriers , Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, today announced that KAREN TUCKER, 47, of Pittsburgh, Pa., was arrested today upon a criminal complaint charging her with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

An affidavit filed with the complaint, which was unsealed upon TUCKER’s arrest, alleges that TUCKER was responsible for defrauding various businesses in connection with a bridal convention fraudulently advertised as being held at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center in early March 2010. According to the affidavit, TUCKER and an uncharged co-conspirator pretended to be a company they called “The Boston 411” and used aliases for The Boston 411's employees.

Starting in September 2009, TUCKER and her co-conspirator led the agency that books events at the Hynes Convention Center to believe that The Boston 411 would rent the center for a bridal convention open to the public. During months of correspondence, the agency asked The Boston 411 to complete the reservation by sending money, contracts, and other information. It is alleged that The Boston 411 never completed the arrangements, but instead strung along the booking agency so that it would nevertheless tell exhibitors and potential exhibitors that the convention was still scheduled. The affidavit charges, that TUCKER and her co-conspirator fraudulently advertised the convention as having thousands of paid attendees, which it did not, and on that basis fraudulently collected exhibitors’ fees, which were spent largely on the conspirators’ personal expenses. Finally, the affidavit alleges that the Boston scam was part of TUCKER’s larger scheme to defraud in Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas, Miami, and Dallas-Ft. Worth, among other cities. The aggravated identity theft charge is based on the conspirators’ attempted use of the name and credit card number of a victim in Miami to pay for a website that advertised the Boston convention.

United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, “This alleged scheme targeted the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and cost many small businesses thousands of dollars. Thanks to the tremendous cooperation between the FBI and the Boston Police Department, we were able to unravel a scheme that had a large impact, with victims that spanned across the country.”

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said, “I would like to commend the hard work of the Boston Police Department and its collaborative efforts with the FBI and the US Attorney’s office to bring this widespread scam to a successful conclusion. This individual victimized unsuspecting persons across the country and thanks to the initiative of the BPD along with our Federal partners this perpetrator has been stopped.”

If convicted on these charges, TUCKER faces up to 22 years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Boston Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Computer Crime Unit.

The details contained in the complaint and affidavit are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.




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