Sherman woman facing federal charges in romance scam

Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 6:25 PM CDT
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A Sherman woman is facing federal charges as part of a romance scam that netted several people $900,000.

Federal prosecutors said they were pulling the heart strings of their victim pretending to be someone else online, and then asking for money.

Pamela Sue Hannan, 66, of Sherman and Pamela Sue Jennings, 68, of Houston are accused of doing this for three years.

"Romance schemes usually involve a perpetrator assuming an online identity, and it's for the purpose of tricking victims," said FBI Special Agent Christine Beining in a video about romance scams released by the FBI in 2017.

This is how prosecutors said Hannan and Jennings got nearly $900,000 and transferred the majority overseas.

Court documents show it started in 2016.

The two women and their co-conspirators opened bank accounts across the country from Texas to New York to South Dakota, even Los Angeles.

Documents show for more than two years, Hannan, Jennings and unnamed co-conspirators convinced two victims to wire money to the accounts.

They show the majority of the funds came from one woman.

Beining said this is the pattern with this type of crime.

"So they develop this intense relationship. And they do seek out people who may be divorced or widowed. So they're people who are vulnerable, who may be desperately looking for love," Beining said.

Court documents show Hannan and Jennings received thousands of dollars from the victims.

The names on the accounts were fake businesses.

According to the indictment, the women would lie about where the money was coming from.

The Federal Trade Commission said in 2018, a reported $143 million were lost to romance scams.

"And again, they will manipulate that victim and endear themselves and gain their trust. And then they'll start asking for money," Beining said.

U.S. Attorney Joe Brown couldn't comment since the investigation is ongoing.

If found guilty, Hannan and Jennings face up to 20 years in prison or up to a nearly $1.8 million fine.