Man pays off Glastonbury woman and gets probation in dating app scam | Crime and courts

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A Massachusetts man accused of participating in a scheme in which a Glastonbury woman was defrauded of $18,750 through an online dating app has paid full restitution and been admitted to a program that can lead to dismissal from the theft charge he faces, his lawyer said.

A similar charge against the man’s wife was dropped, according to attorney Salvatore Bonanno, who represented them both.

The husband, Ricardo L. Escobar Viviescas, 37, who listed addresses in Malden, Lowell and Revere, Mass., and his wife, Carmen Viviana Perez Uribe, who is in her 30s and listed an address in Lowell, have been charged . with counts of second degree robbery.

Escobar, as the husband is commonly known, was admitted to Connecticut’s accelerated rehabilitation program, Bonanno said.

Escobar will be on probation for 18 months, although he will not have to report to a probation officer. If he is not arrested again within that time, the theft charge will be dismissed on October 4, 2023 and all official records of the case will be expunged.

Evidence presented in an affidavit by Glastonbury Police Detective Christopher Kopencey indicates that Escobar and Perez, as his wife is commonly known, were not suspected of being behind the scam which was victim the 60-year-old Glastonbury woman. On the contrary, they were suspected of acting as financial intermediaries for the scammer, who is believed to be based in Nigeria.

The woman told police she met a man through the dating app Zoosk, who told her he was from Denmark and had lost his wife and two children in a car accident in 2016. Depressed and out of work, he says, he moved to the United States in 2018, settling first in Washington and then in Weston, Massachusetts, where he found work as a contractor.

They had daily “chats” online, most of which were romantic.

Eventually, the man told her he had moved to Canada and then traveled to Germany to buy supplies. He said he was detained by immigration authorities at Munich Airport because he was traveling with $300,000 in cash. He then told her he needed $18,750 for bail or he would be held for 10 years.

The woman agreed to lend him the money. He asked her to send it in Bitcoin, but she insisted on sending it by wire transfer. Based on the information he gave her, she transferred the money to a bank account in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Police later discovered the account belonged to a business jointly owned by Escobar and Perez, which sold mango slices from a kiosk in Square One Mall in Saugus, Massachusetts.

Police discovered that the company’s bank account balances reached $174,000 and that it had received transfers similar to that of the Glastonbury woman, leading police to suspect that other people had been victims of similar scams.

Large sums of money had been transferred from the account to a Florida company with ties to Escobar.

The Glastonbury woman became suspicious and reported the situation to the police after receiving a letter from an alleged doctor stating that the man she had contacted needed a liver transplant and asking for $260,000.

Bonanno said Escobar fell victim to the scam. The defense attorney said Escobar expected to receive money “from the sale of certain items.” Kopencey’s affidavit quotes Escobar as saying he was selling cell phones to a wholesale buyer in Medellin, Colombia.

Perez was charged in the case only because her name appeared in the company’s bank account along with Escobar’s, Bonanno said.

For updates on Glastonbury and recent crime and court coverage in North Central Connecticut, follow Alex Wood on Twitter: @AlexWoodJI1Facebook: Alex Wood and Instagram: @AlexWoodJI.

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