CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal jury in Charlotte has convicted a 39-year-old man for his involvement in an online romance scam that targeted elderly victims after he was caught trying to carry $75,000 in cash, which he had taken from one of his victims, through airport security.
Authorities say Michael Moore, a Liberian national living in the Philadelphia area, was convicted of wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, and two counts of making a false statement to an agency of the United States, which carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, for his involvement in the romance scam.
Authorities say Moore and others started their fraudulent scheme to defraud victims by perpetrating an online romance scam in January of 2016.
Evidence shows that Moore and others generally targeted elderly victims through Facebook, senior dating websites, as well as other social media platforms.
Authorities say Moore and others would tell their victims that they were working overseas, and then they would ask for money to buy plane tickets to come visit their victims.
After the victims initially sent the money as requested, federal authorities say Moore and others would tell additional lies about additional fees or costs that needed to be paid in order for them to come visit their victims.
Evidence at trial revealed that Moore and others would continue to solicit money from victims until they had no more money left.
Police say Moore served the fraud scheme as the “money man” or “bag man,” by purchasing one-way tickets and flying around the country to meet unsuspecting victims in order to pick up cash from them in multiple cities.
Authorities say Moore was caught when he tried to fly out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport with $75,000 in cash, taken from one of his victims.
Moore even took pictures and videos bragging with piles of cash taken from victims, according to evidence presented at trial.
The evidence also shows that the victims were repeatedly directed to deposit money into accounts held in the names of third parties.
Authorities say in total, Moore and his co-conspirators stole over $1.5 million from at least 30 victims through this fraud scheme.
The evidence at trial further established that Moore lied to officers when he was caught with $75,000 in cash trying to get through airport security.
Instead of telling officers the truth, Moore told them a story about receiving money from a Liberian government official to buy used cars.
Authorities say later Moore made similar false statements on a federal form in an attempt to have the $75,000 returned to him.
If you have been contacted by a scammer or believe you have fallen victim to a scam, please contact the Justice Department’s Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-Fraud-11 (1-833-372-8311) or visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.