81-year-old Kirkwood woman admits to helping scammers steal up to $1.5 million

scam, elderly
Photo credit (Getty Images)

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KMOX) - After first being duped by an overseas scammer, an 81-year-old woman in St. Louis County admitted to helping the same man steal up to $1.5 million from others.

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Glenda Seim pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to two counts of identity theft for her role serving as a "money mule" for an online romance scammer for more than six years, according to Justice.gov. A “money mule” is a person who receives fraudulently obtained money and merchandise on behalf of a scammer, and then forwards the proceeds to the scammer.

In 2014, Seim was first tricked by a man who claimed to be a U.S. citizen with business interests in Nigeria. He pretended to be in love with her and would ask for her assistance in paying fees, taxes, and penalties to the Nigerian government or his business associates. He claimed that he could not leave Nigeria unless he paid those funds.

She sent him money from her Social Security retirement benefits and pension, despite never meeting him and only communicating through texts. He later asked her to pawn electronic equipment that he had others send to her in the mail and forward the funds to him.

Later pushed her for more money. Seim began participating in other fraudulent schemes including:
• Receiving MoneyGram wire transfers from senders she did not know
• Depositing counterfeit and fraudulently obtained checks into financial accounts she opened
• Allowing her romantic interest to fraudulently transfer funds from the financial accounts of various businesses into her financial accounts
• Accepting unemployment insurance benefit payments on behalf of individuals she did not know.

Seim kept a portion of the funds fraudulently obtained before providing the balance to her online romantic partner.

She was warned by local police, federal law enforcement, bank representatives and wire transfer agencies to stop her involvement. Some of her accounts were even forcefully closed by officials, but she continued to work with the scammer.

Between June 2014 and February 2021, Seim attempted to conduct fraudulent transactions between $550,000 and $1,500,000.

Seim is scheduled to be sentenced on February 10, 2022.

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