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September 28, 2010

BOSTON, Mass. - A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania woman agreed today to waive indictment and plead guilty to charges brought in Boston, Massachusetts for a scheme to defraud commercial advertisers and exhibitors out of fees for fake bridal conventions and magazines advertised in Boston, Massachusetts and other cities across the United States.

KAREN M. TUCKER, 47, most recently residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was charged in an information with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Also filed with the information was a plea agreement in which Tucker agreed to plead guilty to these charges and asked the court to sentence her to between 36 and 57 months of imprisonment.

It is alleged 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. Starting in September 2009, Tucker pretended to be a company called “The Boston 411” and 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.

According to documents filed in Court, during months of correspondence, the agency asked The Boston 411 to complete the reservation by sending money, contracts, and other information. The Boston 411 never completed these arrangements, but instead strung along the booking agency so that it would nevertheless tell exhibitors and potential exhibitors that the convention was still scheduled. At the same time, the affidavit charges that Tucker 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 personal expenses. Finally, the affidavit alleges that the Boston scam was part of Tucker’s larger scheme to defraud in connection with bridal conventions or magazines with a regional focus in cities including Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami, Florida; and Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.

The aggravated identity theft charge is based on Tucker’s attempted use of the name and credit card number of a victim in Miami to pay for a website that advertised the Boston convention. The aggravated identity theft charge is also based on Tucker’s registration of The Boston 411's PayPal account in the name of a person whose identity she had obtained unlawfully at a movie theater in York, Pennsylvania.

If convicted on these charges, Tucker faces up to 22 years of imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is highest.

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 made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Computer Crime Unit.

The details contained in the complaint, complaint affidavit and information 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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