Feds sentence two who scammed Marines looking for love

Two people who ran a fraud scheme that took roughly $160,000 from active duty Marines were sentenced June 5 in federal court.

According to a release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Jones Tyler Martin and Hailey Tykoski carried out a “catfishing” scheme targeting Marines. Officials say the two persuaded Marines to hand over personal and financial information by posing as women interested in relationships.

US Marines training with small arms. (US Navy photo)

According to an October 2016 release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Tykoski was accused of impersonating the women in phone and online conversations, while Martin would use the information the pair acquired to obtain credit or make wire transfers.

The two were taken into custody after an investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service’s Carolinas Field Office out of Camp Lejeune. The two were later indicted on charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting.

The Charlotte News and Observer reported that Martin and Tykoski used the social network MeetMe.com to lure the Marines in. Over a two-year period between 2013 and 2015, they hooked several Marines by convincing them they would be moving into to an off-base apartment.

Cyberspace recently proved dangerous to some Marines’ wallets. (DOD photo)

On Jan. 30, Martin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, and on March 27 Tykoski pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Martin was sentenced to 57 months in prison and five years of supervised release while Tykoski was given five years of probation.

Both were also ordered to make restitution. Martin was ordered to pay $117,306.42m while Tykoski was ordered to pay $42,289.05.

“The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this district treat cases such as this one with high priority,” U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce said in the release. “There will continue to be vigorous prosecution of those who commit fraud and cybercrimes targeting members of the armed services and veterans.”

H. Andrew Goodridge, the NCIS Special Agent in Charge of the Carolinas Field Office, added, “This case reminds all of us to remain vigilant about what information we provide to strangers, it also demonstrates that NCIS is committed to pursuing those who exploit US service members.”