A Gorham man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Portland for participating in a wire fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced Michael Barden, 67, to probation for five years. In addition, Judge Torresen held Barden liable for restitution in an amount to be determined at a future proceeding. Barden pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with a wire fraud conspiracy on January 31, 2020.
According to information revealed in court, Barden met an individual online and began a virtual romance. Barden never met this individual in person. Beginning in August, this person used credit card accounts illegally obtained to make online purchases from retailers in Maine and elsewhere. Barden would pick up or accept delivery of the merchandise and then sell it through online marketplace websites. He would keep a small share of the proceeds and wire the rest of the proceeds overseas. In addition, he assisted this person in fraudulently purchasing a motor vehicle online by posing as the buyer and using the buyer’s identification to complete the purchase. It is estimated the conspiracy stole between $40,000 and $95,000.
“The defendant in this case was drawn into criminal activity through what he thought was an online relationship,” U.S. Attorney Frank said. “Maine residents need to be wary of any online solicitations for friendships or romances from people they do not know. Scammers overseas are using Mainers to assist in criminal activity that can lead to federal felony convictions for all involved.”
This prosecution was the result of a collaborative investigation conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the Maine State Police.
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