Defendant avoids prison in online romance scam | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

An Atlanta-area woman involved in an online romance scam that duped victims out of $820,449 avoided a prison term Tuesday, even though a federal judge admonished her for taking a Disney cruise with her children just weeks before her sentencing.

That unapproved trip violated the bail conditions for Nicole Dibba, and a federal judge said he considered incarcerating her. Instead, she was sentenced to three years of supervised release and time served for her conspiracy to commit wire fraud conviction. A guideline sentence called for 21 to 27 months in prison.

A local woman lost more than $400,000 – her life savings, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito. “She lost all her money,” he said.

The 37-year-old mother of two, who has been on pretrial supervision for five years, by and large complied with her bail conditions until she went on the cruise. Dibba said she had been nervous about what would happen to her at the sentencing hearing.

So she was “trying to do something nice for the kids,” said Senior Litigator MaryBeth Covert of the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Western District of New York.

People are also reading…

“Making that decision was wrong but I wanted that memory with them,” Dibba told U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo.

Dibba expressed remorse for the trip and her crime, promising to focus on being a good mother to her children.

“The problem is whether the remorse and rehabilitation that I see and hear is genuine,” Vilardo said, wondering whether she intended to “thumb your nose” to the court. “The concern is does she get it?”

Covert pressed for alternatives to incarceration, and Vilardo agreed. The judge ordered Dibba to spend the first three months of her supervised release on home detention, wearing an electronic monitoring device, although she will still be able to go to work.

Dibba works seven days a week as a home health aide, taking care of a regular client.

The judge also ordered her to make restitution of $789,741. While it’s doubtful she will ever make full restitution, she will have to pay 10% of her monthly gross income toward that amount.

“I’m just really sorry for the victims” Dibba said.

From May 2018 to May 2019, Dibba played a minor part, essentially as a money mule, in a conspiracy to obtain money through the internet scheme. She opened a bank account, and the majority of the deposits were from people who were the victims of an online romance scam. Dibba did not communicate with the victims, but she was the sole signatory on the bank account where they sent their money.

Some victims have had to delay their retirement because of their losses, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito.

“This is real hurt to real people,” Vilardo said.

Erie County DA launches online complaint form to report scams

Citizens can report information about scams or suspected fraud directly to the District Attorney’s Office, whose Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau is responsible for probing and prosecuting cases involving fraud, identity theft and other financial crimes.

Ippolito credited Dibba for cooperating with investigators and immediately turning over her phone, which allowed them to identify and successfully prosecute a person higher in the scheme’s hierarchy.

That person, Tochukwu Okerulu, was sentenced last week to time served, although he had spent 18 months in jail before his plea and sentence.

At the time of her crime, Dibba was a single mother and unemployed – faced with having to support herself and her family alone after her ex-husband was deported, according to Assistant Federal Public Defender Fonda Kubiak, who prepared the defense’s sentencing recommendation to the court. That helps explain how she came to commit “a regrettable act in an attempt to provide for herself and her family,” Kubiak said.

Patrick Lakamp can be reached at [email protected]

Source link


Click Here For The Original Source.

National Cyber Security