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Indiana woman admits to defrauding 96-year-old Rhode Island widower in online romance scam

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PROVIDENCE, RI – An Indiana woman admitted to a federal Judge in Rhode Island that she perpetrated an online romance scam that defrauded a 96-year-old Coventry widower of nearly $80,000, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

33-year-old Brittany Rakia Shawnai Lasley of Anderson, IN, admitted that she created a social media account containing fake profile information on the dating site “Plenty of Fish,” and promptly began a campaign to persuade the victim to provide her with money, credit cards, gift cards, and his personal identifying information. Lasley admitted that she led the victim to believe that providing her with these items would facilitate meetings between the two and foster a romantic relationship. During the scheme, Lasley fraudulently obtained access to the victim’s checking account and credit card and made numerous unauthorized purchases.

An investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service determined that Lasley had approximately eighty-nine communications with the victim during which she made fraudulent representations concerning her alleged needs for funds for, among other things, medical expenses, home repairs, and travel to Rhode Island.

Lasley admitted to the court that she defrauded the 96-year-old widower of approximately $80,000.

Lasley pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2023. The defendant’s sentence will be determined by a federal judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul F. Daly, Jr., and Peter I Roklan.

The matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

United States Attorney Cunha thanked the Coventry, RI, Police Department; Anderson, IN, Police Department; Indiana State Police; United States Marshals Service; and U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.

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