Liberian National Sentenced For 27 Months In Prison For Scams That Involved Virtual Romance Fraud
A Liberian national was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison by a federal judge in Delaware.
Mark Clark, 45, pled guilty in October 2020 to one count of bank fraud.
According to court documents, Clark opened personal and business bank accounts at numerous financial institutions in his own name and in the name of other individuals, including his own deceased relatives, for the purpose of receiving fraudulently obtained wire transfers from victims.
Once the victims’ money hit Clark’s accounts, he would convert a portion of it for his own use and distribute the rest to others involved in the fraudulent schemes, including individuals in Ghana.
Clark received over $250,000 in fraudulently obtained funds between July 2017 and August 2018. The victims tricked into sending money to Clark’s accounts included five individuals who were victimized through Internet-based romance fraud.
Victims were contacted virtually by an individual who gained the victims’ confidence by purporting to be in an “online relationship” with the victim and convincing the victims to send money through trickery.
A common ruse involved the individual purporting to be an American service member stationed overseas in need of financial assistance to return home.
Clark also received fraudulently obtained funds from corporate and government victims. Clark received two fraudulent deposits from the Social Security Administration after the Social Security numbers of two victims and during the government to send money to Clark instead of the intended beneficiaries.
In another case, he obtained a fraudulent deposit from a life insurance company after computer hackers compromised the company’s computer systems and directed the company to send Clark an insurance disbursement intended for another person.
U.S. Attorney David Weiss stated, “Internet-based fraud scams are a nationwide problem that frequently targets the most vulnerable members of our society. These scams, which often involve sophisticated groups of individuals all over the world, cannot succeed without the involvement of individuals like Clark who agree to receive the illicit proceeds and further distribute the proceeds to others participating in the fraud. My office will continue to prosecute those who engage in these fraud schemes in any capacity.”
In addition to the prison term, Judge Noreika ordered that Clark pay restitution in the amount of $85,779, as well as a 3-year period of supervised release.