PROVIDENCE, RI — A Texas woman who admitted to a Providence judge that she banked more than $1.26 million of the more than $2.5 million she and co-conspirators swindled from victims of online “romance scams” was sentenced Wednesday to 6.5 years in federal prison, United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha said, according to a news release.
The woman, 31-year-old Dominique Golden, said she and other scammers used aliases to create businesses and open bank accounts to receive and deposit funds given to them by unsuspecting people who believed they had formed genuine online relationships with the scammers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between Feb. 4, 2018, and Dec. 12, 2018, Golden collected and deposited a total of $1,263,822.54 into the bank accounts she controlled, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“To carry out these schemes, members of the conspiracy contacted victims via the internet and app-based communication platforms, cultivated relationships of trust, convinced the victims that money was needed for an urgent purpose, and then directed the victims to send money via mail or wire transfer to various persons, including Golden,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in the release.
Golden pleaded guilty on Sept. 1, 2022, to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. She was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. to 78 months in federal prison followed by three years of federal supervised release, and was ordered to pay $1,263,822.54 in restitution.
Additionally, luxury cars and goods purchased with scam proceeds will be seized, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Fraud that preys on the emotions and vulnerabilities of vulnerable victims – especially the elderly – to cheat them out of their hard-earned savings is unconscionable,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha, according to the release. “With today’s sentence, Ms. Golden will deservedly trade her stolen luxuries for a prison jumpsuit, and I am pleased that we have the chance to return at least some of the proceeds of her fraud to her many victims.”
McConnell ordered that the 78-month term of incarceration imposed Wednesday will begin immediately. That 78-month term will be served concurrently with a separate 54-month federal sentence that Golden began serving in March 2020 in the Northern District of Georgia, having been convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering in an unrelated fraud conspiracy.