Skip to main content
Press Release

Indiana Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Victimizing 96-Year-Old Rhode Islander Through an Online Romance Scam

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, RI – An Indiana woman who perpetrated an online romance scam that defrauded a 96-year-old Rhode Island widower out of nearly $80,000 has been sentenced to three years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Brittany Rakia Shawnai Lasley, 34, of Anderson, IN, previously admitted to a federal judge that she created a social media account containing fake profile information on the dating site “Plenty of Fish.” When contacted by the Rhode Island widower, she promptly began a campaign to persuade the victim to provide her with money, credit cards, gift cards, and his personal identifying information. She led the victim to believe that providing her with these items would facilitate meetings between the two and foster a romantic relationship. During the scheme, Lasley fraudulently obtained access to the victim’s checking account and credit cards and made numerous unauthorized purchases.

During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, a federal prosecutor quoted from a victim impact statement submitted to the court by the 96-year-old victim, who wrote that he “ was in shock and disbelief. It took me a few days to comprehend what had happened. I was embarrassed, horrified, and distressed about my financial situation, fearing that I could lose the house I had lived in since 1970.

“This defendant preyed on a vulnerable, elderly Rhode Islander, dangling the promise of love and companionship in an attempt to help herself to her victim’s hard-earned savings,” remarked U.S. Attorney Cunha.  “With this sentence, it is Ms. Lasley who will deservedly pay the price for her appalling conduct.  I commend the exceptional work of this team of law enforcement professionals- state, federal, and local, for bringing this defendant to justice.” 

“There is no worse predator than one who preys on the vulnerable.  In this case, Ms. Lasley targeted lonely seniors to satisfy her own greed.  The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud to stand with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to protect the vulnerable members of our community and to bring to justice those who would victimize them.” Inspector in Charge Ketty D. Larco-Ward, United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division.

Lasley pleaded guilty on September 6, 2023, to a charge of wire fraud. She was sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith to 36 months of incarceration to be followed by three years of federal supervised release, the first six months to be served in a residential reentry facility.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul F. Daly, Jr., and Peter I Roklan.

The matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

United States Attorney Cunha thanks the Coventry, RI, Police Department; Anderson, IN, Police Department; Indiana State Police; United States Marshals Service; and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.

 

###

 

Contact

Jim Martin

(401) 709-5357

Updated January 11, 2024

Topics
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-01