Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Follow Up: March Bridal Show Scam

Here is an update on the bridal show scam that we discussed here on the blog March 5th. To view our original post, click here.

Alleged mastermind of wedding-fraud scheme arrested
July 27, 2010

Federal authorities say they have arrested the mastermind of a scheme that defrauded hundreds of wedding-industry vendors who registered for a heavily advertised bridal show at the Hynes Convention Center in March but turned out to be a sham.

Karen Tucker, 47, of Pittsburgh, was arrested today in the Pennsylvania city and charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in Boston. She allegedly also staged similar schemes in at least five other states.

In the Hynes episode, Tucker and an uncharged co-conspirator pretended to be a company called The Boston 411 that heavily promoted a bridal show that was supposed to take place on the weekend of March 5, according to prosecutors. Tucker and her co-conspirator claimed in advertisements that thousands of would-be brides and grooms planned to attend the show, which was a lie.

Based on those promotions, about 100 to 200 wedding-industry vendors paid $350 to $4,000 each to operate booths at the show, Boston Police Detective Steven Blair said in March.

Federal authorities said the conspirators used the money to pay for their own expenses. The affidavit also alleges that Tucker was involved in similar scams, with varying degrees of success, in Miami, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Dallas, and Columbus, Ohio.

"This alleged scheme targeted the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and cost many small businesses thousands of dollars,'' Ortiz said in a statement." Thanks to the tremendous cooperation between the FBI and the Boston Police Department, we were able to unravel a scheme that had a large impact, with victims that spanned across the country.''

Tucker is to make her first appearance in US District Court in Pittsburgh this afternoon and is expected to be extradited to Boston later, said Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for Ortiz.

If convicted of the charges, Tucker faces up to 22 years in prison, prosecutors said.

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