ST. LOUIS — A Xenia woman was sentenced to prison on Thursday after admitting she lied to U.S. postal inspectors to conceal her involvement with a romance scam.
Linda Matson, 62, was sentenced to two years in prison after lying to the inspector and also making false statements to a federal agent and lying to the FBI, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri.
On April 29, 2020, U.S. postal inspectors found $50,000 that had fallen from an Express Mail package sent by Matson to a post office box being used in an alleged romance fraud scheme. They later found a second package containing the same amount, the release said.
The inspectors reached out to Matson, who acknowledged that she had been scammed by someone claiming to be a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army. On May 10, 2020, three days after admitting she had been duped in that romance scam, Matson began inducing her relatives to send her money on behalf of her fictitious military officer.
In an effort to conceal her continued involvement in the romance fraud scam and to expedite the return of the seized funds, on May 18, 2020 she sent multiple text messages to a postal inspector falsely claiming that she needed the money to buy posters and T-shirts to help find her missing 18-year-old niece. Matson also allegedly sent links to news articles and Facebook stories about a missing Ohio teenager to deceive the inspector into acting quickly.
Believing Matson’s statements to be true, relatives gave Matson $590,000 that was to be used to help the fictitious military officer. Instead of providing the funds to the United States Customs Service as she promised, Matson mailed the money to post office boxes controlled by the romance scammers, the release said.
Matson pleaded guilty in August to a charge of making false statements to a federal agent and admitted she intended to use the money for reasons she was concealing from the postal inspector. She also admitted lying to the inspector and the FBI.