Woman Gets Prison Time After Swindling $500K in Romance Scam

  • An Ohio woman sent scammers thousands through the mail before inspectors discovered the money, officials say.
  • After acknowledging she’d been scammed first, officials say the woman convinced family to send nearly $600,000.
  • She was sentenced to two years in prison for her involvement on Thursday. 

An Ohio woman was sentenced to two years in prison after lying to conceal her participation in a “romance scam” that involved convincing family members to send her nearly $600,000 on behalf of a fake military officer. 

Linda Matson, 62, was arrested in 2021 after federal officials discovered she persuaded relatives to send a total of $590,000 to “someone claiming to be a lieutenant general in the US Army,” despite initially being duped herself as part of a romance scam, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.  

According to the indictment, Matson convinced her family to give her money “to aid in the purported recovery of a portfolio containing cash and diamonds valued at $20,000,000.”

In April 2020, US Postal Inspectors found a total of $100,000 inside packages sent from Matson to the accused con artists from a P.O. Box in St. Louis which they discovered had been part of the scheme, the release states. 

After a postal worker discovered the money, Matson allegedly sent a series of text messages to the employee “falsely claiming that she needed the money to buy posters and T-shirts to help find her missing 18-year-old niece,” according to the US Attorney’s Office.

“Matson also sent links to news articles and Facebook stories about a missing Ohio teenager to deceive the inspector into acting quickly,” the release states.

When asked about the money, Matson reportedly acknowledged to inspectors that “she had been scammed by someone claiming to be a lieutenant general in the US Army,” according to the release.  

In August, she pleaded guilty to a charge of making false statements to a federal agent and admitted that she’d concealed her intentions with the money from the postal inspector, officials said. 

Just months earlier, in June, two men were sentenced to four and five years, respectively, for a conspiracy to commit a mail fraud and wire fraud scheme, according to the release. The pair reportedly used the same claim about military officers needing money to swindle women into mailing $844,070 to P.O. boxes in St. Louis, and were forced to repay their victims.

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