Kenyan National Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy Involving Romance Scams
BOSTON – A Kenyan national pleaded guilty today in connection with her role in a fraud conspiracy involving romance scams targeting individuals in the United States.
Florence Mwende Musau, 36, a Kenyan national previously residing in Canton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for Oct. 14, 2021.
On March 25, 2021, Musau and five others were charged in connection with their roles in online scams that are alleged to have collectively defrauded victims of more than $4 million.
According to the charging documents, Musau participated in a series of romance scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by her and others. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. To carry out the schemes, Musau used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the romance scams. She then executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often multiple times on a single day and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud provide for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, restitution, and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Joshua McCallister, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Jonathan Davidson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Stearns of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.