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Genesee County Woman Gets A Year For Overseas Orphanage Scam

January 23, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Julie Keller, 57, of Corfu, NY, who was convicted of wire fraud, was sentenced to serve one year probation, and pay restitution totaling $162,853.59, by U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Franz M. Wright, who handled the case, stated that in December 2014, Keller began communicating online with someone who identified themself as “Eric Holder,” who claimed to be raising money to build an orphanage in Africa. Between July 2015 and September 2020, Keller received money from numerous individuals (victims) who allegedly were contributing financially to the orphanage project. Keller deposited the money in bank accounts at First Niagara Bank, M&T Bank, KeyBank, and Bank of America that she owned and controlled, before dispersing the funds to other bank accounts located outside of the United States. During the course of the scheme, each of the banks closed Keller’s accounts, advising her that the accounts were closed due to suspicious and fraudulent activity. However, Keller became aware during the course of the scheme that the orphanage project was fraudulent and the individuals sending her money were doing so under false pretenses, or she strongly suspected that the scheme was fraudulent but consciously avoided learning the truth, and continued to deposit funds into her accounts from victims. The total loss amount to victims was $182,730.76.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Ketty Larco-Ward.