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Press Release

Camdenton Man Pleads Guilty to Romance Fraud Scheme on the Day of Trial

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Camdenton, Missouri, man who was scheduled to go to trial yesterday, instead pleaded guilty to a $78,000 fraud scheme in which he used his victim’s credit cards without authorization.

Ivan Joseph Stark, Jr., 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Monday, Jan. 6, to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Stark became romantically involved with his victim, identified in court documents as “C.H.,” after they met on a dating website. Stark, who used an alias and omitted details regarding his past prison sentence, obtained C.H.’s credit cards on March 1, 2018. Stark obtained the credit cards by falsely telling C.H. he intended to repair an electronic sign and sell the sign for a profit. Stark falsely claimed he already had a buyer for the sign. Stark promised to repay C.H. for purchases he made with C.H.’s credit cards using the proceeds from the sale of the sign. Stark also promised to split a portion of the proceeds of the sale with C.H. In reality, there was no electric sign or project to repair any sign.

Stark obtained a total of $78,280 through this scheme. One of the credit cards, for example, was used to make a $10,180 down payment on a 30-foot trailer from Flying A. Motorsports. Another credit card was used to make a $1,500 down payment on a Dodge Ram truck, which was made over the phone with another woman who purported to be the victim.

Stark opened a Square account under the name AVR Industries. Stark falsely represented to Square that AVR was a taxicab and limousine business, when in fact, no such business was in operation. Stark conducted approximately $43,000 in transactions through Square, using C.H.’s credit cards, to make payments to AVR. As a result of these transactions, $41,817 was deposited into Stark’s personal bank account.

Stark, without C.H.’s knowledge or consent, requested a credit limit increase on two of C.H.’s
credit cards. 

Stark ultimately charged one of C.H.’s credit cards to a balance above $43,000. Stark made an electronic payment from his personal account in the amount of $21,947, payable to C.H.’s credit card, knowing that his account contained insufficient funds to cover the payment. Before his unfunded payment was reversed, however, Stark made approximately $21,154 in charges to C.H.’s credit card. This resulted in a statement balance of $43,607, which was $21,607 over the card’s credit limit.

Under federal statutes, Stark is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole for bank fraud and a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison without parole for aggravated identity theft, which must be served consecutively. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley S. Turner and Lauren E. Kummerer. It was investigated by the FBI and the Camden County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Updated January 7, 2020

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft