A Kenyan national living in Massachusetts has admitted to her role in an elaborate romance scam that prosecutors say defrauded multiple men out of more than $4million.
Florence Mwende Musau, 36, who previously resided in Canton, pleaded guilty on Monday to federal counts of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said.
She faces a maximum of 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on October 14.
Florence Mwende Musau, 36, a Kenyan citizen, has pleaded guilty to federal counts of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
Musau, who used at least two aliases, including the name Catherine Muthoki, has admitted to her role in a romance scam that prosecutors say defrauded men out of more than $4million
Musau was one of six people, among them four Nigerian nationals, who were charged in March.
Musau participated in a string of romance scams designed to con victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by her and her alleged accomplices, according to authorities.
She used fake identities on dating apps and social media sites and created the illusion of a romantic relationship with the victims to steal money from them, prosecutors said.
She also used fake passports and at least two aliases, using the names Precious Adams and Catherine Muthoki, to open bank accounts in the Boston area to collect and launder the proceeds of the scams, prosecutors said.
When Musau withdrew the money, it was often in amounts less than $10,000 to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.
Musau and her alleged accomplice, 41-year-old Nigerian national Mark Arome Okuo, have been accused of defrauding people of $1.3million since 2018 as part of a romance scam.
Prosecutors say Okuo used the alias Anthony Terry and pretended to be a U.S. Army serviceman and an oil industry worker.
Musau and one of her alleged accomplices, 41-year-old Nigerian national Mark Arome Okuo, were accused of transferring or depositing $1.3million in fraudulent proceeds, since 2018, into various bank accounts, including $195,000 obtained through five romance scams, Dailymail.com reports.
A criminal complaint obtained by DailyMail.com details how Okuo would allegedly meet women on dating sites and pretend to be a U.S. Army soldier serving in the Middle East or Africa.
As the relationships developed, Okuo claimed that he needed the women to wire him money to leave the military and return to the U.S. to marry them, according to the court documents.
In one case, a victim was said to have transferred $137,000 to bank accounts controlled by Okuo and Musau, thinking it would help her groom-to-be to obtain his military retirement benefits early.
Okue would tell women that he was serving or working overseas and that he needed money to return to the U.S. to be with them, court records allege.
In another case, Okuo allegedly told a woman from Georgia that he lived in Kuwait and worked in the oil industry but was in love with her and needed $4,700 to return to the U.S. to be with her. The victim promptly wired the sum to an account controlled by the accused con man.
As part of the dating scam, Musau swindled a California resident she met on social media out of $7,800 by claiming that she was a United Nations refugee camp worker who needed the money to return to the U.S. to start a new life with him.
The bank accounts opened by the accused con artists also were used to collect a further $20,000 through pandemic unemployment benefits in the names of unsuspecting Massachusetts residents who did not apply for such benefits.