BOSTON – A Canton woman was sentenced today for her role in a fraud conspiracy involving a romance scam and pandemic unemployment fraud.
Florence Mwende Musau, 38, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Allison D. Burroughs to 44 months in prison and 30 months of supervised release. Musau was also ordered to pay $957,000 in restitution and forfeiture of approximately $350,000 and a Lexus SUV. In 2021, Musau was charged and pleaded guilty to wire and bank fraud.
Musau was involved in a conspiracy involving romance scams and other online scams designed to trick victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by him and others. Criminals who commit romance scams create fake profiles on online dating or social media websites, gain the trust of potential victims, and then trick those victims into transferring money under false pretenses.
To further the conspiracy, Moussau used forged passports under numerous aliases, opened bank accounts in and around Boston, and received proceeds from romance scams. Moussau then withdrew cash from these accounts, typically less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and foreign exchange transaction reporting requirements. Musau also received money from state pandemic unemployment assistance benefits on behalf of the victims. As part of the scheme, Moussau opened nearly a dozen fake bank accounts using at least three different aliases and received approximately $1 million in fraudulent proceeds.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and New England Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Matthew B. Millhollin made the announcement today. Special assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian J. Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General announced the COVID-19 Fraud Response to Pool Department of Justice Resources in Collaboration with Agencies Across Government to Strengthen Efforts to Combat and Prevent Pandemic Fraud created a working group. The Task Force will strengthen efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminals and, among other things, strengthen and consolidate existing coordination mechanisms, identify resources and methods to identify fraudsters, and prevent fraud. assists agencies tasked with administering aid programs. sharing and using information and insights from their schemes as well as previous enforcement actions. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud related to COVID-19 should call the Department of Justice’s National Disaster Fraud Center (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or may report through NCDF web complaint form: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.