ST. LOUIS — A woman from Kirkwood pleaded guilty here Tuesday to federal bank fraud and identity theft charges and admitted helping an overseas scammer defraud others.
Glenda Seim, 81, was herself duped in 2014, when she began an online relationship with someone claiming to be an American citizen working in Nigeria, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry said in court. Seim sent some of her Social Security retirement to help her paramour get out of the country.
But in the years that followed, she ignored repeated warnings by bank officials and law enforcement that she was involved in scams.
Seim initially pawned electronic equipment that had been mailed to her, and then sent the money to Nigeria. In June 2014, she tried to wire $8,400 to Nigeria and was warned by MoneyGram employees that she was involved in a fraud scheme.
Six months later, she deposited a $45,000 counterfeit check into a bank account. The account was closed and bank officials issued her another warning, Berry said.
She then filled out paperwork to create a fake company and then opened business bank accounts that scammers used to electronically deposit money from romance scams, Berry said.
She was warned again, this time by agents of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, and promised to stop, Berry said.
When they returned to her apartment, they found letters containing three debit cards containing unemployment insurance in the name of three victims of identity theft, Berry said. She’d texted pictures of the front and back of the cards to scammers, Berry said.
Between Aug. 1, 2014, and Feb. 23 of this year, the scammers sought to steal between $550,000 and $1.5 million, Berry said. Many of the transactions were stopped, however, and the actual loss will likely be less than $50,000, Berry said.
At her sentencing in February, Seim could face roughly three to four years in prison under federal guidelines.
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