BOSTON (Reuters) - A Pittsburgh woman will be doing a perp walk, not a walk down the aisle, after being sentenced to more than five years in prison on Friday for running a fake bridal show in Boston.
Karen Tucker, 47, will also pay $116,813 in restitution after being sentenced in a Boston court of swindling commercial advertisers and exhibitors.
The Boston scam was part of a wider scheme that targeted Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Columbus, Ohio, authorities said.
In total Tucker took in about $120,000 from 200 victims, mostly small businesses, across the country. She pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and identity theft.
Tucker’s fake company, “The Boston 411,” advertised that she would hold a bridal convention at a major Boston venue in March 2010.
She “never completed the arrangements to book the convention center, but instead strung along the booking agency so that it would nevertheless tell exhibitors and potential advertisers that the convention was still scheduled,” authorities said.
Tucker backed up her claims with a professional-looking website, and also used the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to say that the convention would attract “thousands” of brides-to-be.
“The Internet does not give criminals anonymity,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. “Ms Tucker thought that her crimes would be untraceable.”
Exhibitors keen to reach the brides-to-be sent Tucker money that she spent mostly on personal expenses. While the scam was under way Tucker used a number of aliases, including two stolen identities.
Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Greg McCune