Florence Mwende Musau, a 38 year old Kenyan woman has been sentenced to 7 years in prison after she was found guilty of stealing millions in a romance scam.
U.S District Court in Massachusetts also fined her Sh124 million ($957,000) for her role in a fraud conspiracy targeting people in the united states. She was ordered to forfeit approximately Sh43.2 million ($350,000) and a Lexus sports SUV,
US authorities said Mwende and five others used fake passports and numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the romance scams.
The online scams were designed to defraud victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by her and others.
She pleaded guilty in 2021 at a Boston Federal court and was on Tuesday sentenced to 44 months in prison and 30 months of supervised release.
The accounts were also used to collect fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefits in the names of Massachusetts beneficiaries who did not apply for such funds. During court proceedings, it was mentioned that Mwende acted on instructions given by her boyfriend.
According to court documents, her Nigerian boyfriend Mark Arome Okuo would allegedly meet women on dating sites and pretend to be a US Army soldier serving in the Middle East or Africa.
As the relationships developed, Okuo claimed that he needed the women to wire him money so that he could leave the military and return to the US to marry them.
The two received money from unsuspecting victims by lying about their positions and claiming that they needed the money to return to the United States to settle.