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Woman pleads guilty to money fraud in online romance

Woman pleads guilty to money fraud in online romance

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ABINGDON, Va. — A Bristol, Virginia woman who pleaded guilty to fraudulently opening several bank accounts, depositing counterfeit checks and shipping large quantities of cash in a scam involving an online romance, was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation.

Kathleen Littleford, 77, was sentenced in federal court in Abingdon, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to execute a scheme to defraud financial institutions to obtain money by false pretenses and faced up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

According to court documents, beginning in 2018, Littleford opened a series of bank accounts so she could deposit counterfeit checks and receive fraudulent transfers of funds from other banking institutions. She did so to assist the man she met online, the release states.

Over the course of the scheme, Littleford opened accounts with at least five local banks and fraudulently received more than $190,000, according to the release.

The man told Littleford that he made a lot of money in a trade deal in Dubai and those funds were encumbered by the IRS due to taxes he owed, according to the release. He also claimed he had a lot of money tied up in stocks and he needed Littleford’s help receiving funds from banking institutions because he could not transfer money himself, due to the IRS claims on his accounts, the release states.

Littleford admitted Tuesday that she took “extraordinary measures” to comply with the man’s fraudulent financial requests. Littleford knew what she was doing was wrong but knowingly and willfully engaged in the conduct anyway, the release states.

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