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Love Letter Mail Scam Nets Ten Prisoners $221,000 and Fed Time

On October 4, 2005, Karen Ann Erdely, 40, a Pennsylvania state prisoner, was sentenced to the maximum term of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The federal court found that she was the ringleader of a love letter scam that involved over a dozen female prisoners and defrauded 224 men of over $221,000. Erdely personally defrauded her victims of $106,261, which she was ordered to repay in restitution.

The scam involved the women placing pen pal ads in magazines and on the internet. When men responded, they would start a pen pal relationship and send the men a photo of an attractive woman they falsely claimed was them. Inevitably the women would ask the men for money. Various reasons would be given for needing the money such as needing to pay a lawyer or court costs. Often the women, who were not near being released, promised to live with or marry the men after release and said that they only needed the costs of their fine or relocation costs to be released. After receiving that money, they would then claim that new charges had been filed and continue the fraud.

Other prisoners sentenced to federal prison time and required to repay the amounts defrauded in the scheme include: Anna Connely who defrauded nine men of $11,600 received over two years; Yvette Stewart, 37, who received three months for defrauding men of $7,240; and Michelle Bradford, 39, who received 84 days and three years of supervised release for defrauding men of $9,919. The scheme was first started in March 1996, and ran until December 2003. All of the women indicted in the scheme were from Erie, Crawford and Lycoming counties.


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