30th August 2013
Readers are reminded to be cautious about sending money to people they meet online, after a mother and daughter were jailed for a total of 27 years for running an internet dating scam.
Karen Vasseur, 63 and daughter Tracy, 42 from Denver, Colorado, stole a total of £700,000 (US$1.1 million) from victims who thought they were talking to US service personnel seeking romance. They allegedly tricked 374 people in 40 countries, including the UK.
The prolific scammers duped 374 victims in the US and 40 other countries. Their operation – which included several other people – targeted potentially vulnerable people who they approached on social media and dating sites. The victims were made to believe that they were online dating people who were serving in the US armed forces who were in need of money for travel costs, satellite phones and a variety of other purposes. Once they had been convinced that the requests were genuine they were instructed to transfer the funds to the two women, who said they were military agents. The highest transaction was £38,000 ($59,000).
The majority of the stolen money was then transferred to accomplices around the world, mostly in Nigeria … but also the UK, India, Ecuador and UAE.
Police said: "Not only did this mother-daughter duo break the law, they broke hearts worldwide."
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers commented: "It is fitting that they received stiff sentences for their unconscionable crimes committed in the name of love and the United States military."
Both women pleaded guilty when arrested in 2012. Tracy Vasseur received a 15-year jail sentence, and her mother 12 years. The younger woman received an additional four-year term for offences relating to an attempt to gain control of her children's inheritance, and for "attempting to influence a public servant".