Mother and daughter sentenced for Internet dating scam
A mother and daughter who broke hearts — and the law — when they used the Internet to gull hundreds of women into sending money to accomplices posing as U.S. military members have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
Karen Vasseur, 63, received a 12-year sentence and her daughter, Tracy Vasseur, 42, received a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to running the “Nigerian Internet Romance scam.” Authorities say they stole $1.1 million from 374 victims throughout the United States and 40 other countries.
“Not only did this mother-daughter duo break the law, they broke hearts worldwide,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Wednesday in a release announcing the sentences. “It is fitting that they
received stiff sentences for their unconscionable crimes committed in the name of love and the United States military.”
Tracy Vasseur also received a four-year sentence for committing several other crimes related to trying to gain control over her childrens’ inheritance and for attempting to influence a public servant. Her sentences will run consecutively, bringing the total to 19 years.
The two, both of whom are from Brighton, pleaded guilty to involvement in the scam, in Adams County District Court.
According to a 2012 indictment, the scam’s participants targeted victims they found on dating web sites or social networking sites, like Facebook.
Other so far unidentified people who were working with the Vasseurs communicated with the victims, usually through e-mail, telling them they were members of the U.S. military serving mostly in Afghanistan.
After establishing a relationship, they asked victims to send them money they needed to retrieve property, travel to the States to meet the women or pay other expenses.
The Vasseurs posed as military agents and accepted hundreds of payments that victims wired to them over a three-year period, authorities said.
The women took a portion of the stolen money and then wired the rest to associates in Nigeria, according to the release.
They established 20 personal and business bank accounts at 11 local banks for the purpose of laundering the stolen money.
As part of the scheme, Tracy Vasseur frequently used her minor daughter to both send and receive wires containing stolen money.
The girl wired over $52,000 in stolen money to individuals in Nigeria, authorities said.
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