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FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. - A Pittsburgh woman was sentenced today in federal court to 65 months in prison for defrauding commercial advertisers and exhibitors out of fees for fake bridal conventions and magazines advertised in Boston and other cities across the country.

KAREN M. TUCKER, 47, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns to 65 months in prison, to be followed by 36 months of supervised release, $116,813 in restitution and $116,813 in forfeiture. On October 7, 2010, Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

At the earlier plea hearing, Tucker agreed to the facts that she fraudulently advertised that her fictitious company, “The Boston 411,” would hold a bridal convention at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center in early March 2010. Tucker misrepresented to the bridal industry, and the agency that books Hynes Convention Center events, that the convention would really occur. Tucker never completed the arrangements to book the convention center, 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, Tucker used Facebook and Twitter to fraudulently advertise the convention as having thousands of paid brides-to-be attendees, which was false. Exhibitors who wanted to reach the brides-to-be sent her money, which Tucker spent largely on personal expenses. During the scheme, Tucker also tried hide behind a variety of aliases, including two stolen identities.

The Boston scam was part of Tucker’s larger fraudulent bridal scheme that targeted Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore, Las Vegas, Miami and Dallas-Ft. Worth. At today’s hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that in total, Tucker took in about $120,000 from 200 victims at small businesses across the country.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz stated, “This case should send a strong message that the Internet does not give criminals anonymity. Ms. Tucker thought that her crimes would be untraceable, but thanks to the dedication and commitment of the investigators, the scam was uncovered, and justice was served.”

Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI said, “Today’s sentencing reflects the joint efforts of the Boston Police Department and FBI to investigate and apprehend those who exploit the use of the Internet to defraud small businesses during difficult economic times.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz, Special Agent in Charge DesLauriers and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland of Ortiz’s Computer Crime Unit.


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