CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX CAROLINA) – A man has been convicted of wire fraud after stealing $1.5 million from at least 30 elderly people during a online romance scam, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the DOJ, 39-year-old Michael Moore, a Liberian national living in Philadelphia, and others engaged in a fraudulent scheme by perpetrating an online romance scam targeting the elderly.
They say trial evidence established that Moore and his co-conspirators targeted victims through Facebook, senior dating sites, and other social media platforms.
They would convince the victims through online communications that they were romantically interested in them, says DOJ. Moore and others would often tell the victims to send them money for plant tickets or to pay for their travels so they can visit the victims.
According to the DOJ, evidence at trial showed that they would continue to ask for money until the victims had no money left.
The DOJ says Moore would fly across the country to meet unsuspecting victims and pick up cash from them in multiple cities. They say he was caught trying to fly out of Charlotte with $75,000 in cash from a victim.
They say victims would also be asked to deposit money into accounts held in the names of third parties.
According to the DOJ, when Moore was caught, instead of telling law enforcement the truth, he told them a story about receiving the money from a Liberian government official to buy used cars. He also made false statements and representations on a federal form in an attempt to have the money returned to him.
Moore was convicted of wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, and two counts of making a false statement to an agency of the U.S. This carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine.
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