ST. LOUIS – A Kirkwood woman who was a victim of a romance scam in the St. Louis area shared her story about the incident.

“In 2018, I met the love of my life online. He told me he was a US citizen working in Nigeria. He asked me for money to help with his business and help to leave Nigeria,” said 81-year-old Glenda Seim of Kirkwood.

In a public service announcement produced by the FBI, Seim shared the story of how she aided her scammers.

“When I couldn’t get the money that he wanted, he asked me to open personal and business bank accounts,” Seim said.

On Monday, 61-year-old Linda Matson of Xenia, Ohio pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom in St. Louis to a charge of lying to a federal agent.

“What Linda Matson did, is that she started reaching out to her own victims. The stories she had been told were lies,” said Tracy Berry, Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. “She then repeated them to family members as if they were the gospel.”

The court documents show the scammers convinced Matson she was romantically involved with a United States Army General. Over the next several months, the scammers persuaded Matson to mail hundreds of thousands of dollars to a PO box at the Berkely, Missouri post office. It was a part of a scheme intended to help “General J.D” recover a fictitious portfolio valued at $20 million.

“That portfolio was being held up in United States Customs,” Berry said. “They needed these women to help pay to get the money back from the United States Customs Service.”

In April 2020, U.S. Postal Inspectors found $100,000 in packages addressed to the Berkely PO box used in the romance fraud scheme. When inspectors contacted Matson, court documents show she lied to the postal inspector about why she needed the money back. She also admitted to lying to the FBI.

“Had she told them, they’re still contacting me,” Berry said. “Had she told them this is still going on, not only could we have protected her, but we could’ve protected people beyond her family and other individuals who were being victimized by these fraudsters. If she had only spoken up.”

Currently, Matson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Her sentencing is scheduled for November 16.

“The best advice we can give is disengaged. If that means shutting down your Facebook page, shut down your Facebook page,” Berry said. “If that means changing your cell phone number, changing your email address, do it. You have to disengage. Don’t play with these individuals.”

The Nigerian men involved in the scheme were sentenced to prison. Both men were also ordered to repay nearly $850,000 to fraud victims.