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Arizona U.S. Attorney Office: Tucson woman's sentence gives justice to refugees she scammed

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A federal judge recently handed down a yearlong prison sentence, followed by three years of probation, to a Tucson woman for committing bank fraud against Syrian refugees.

The woman pleaded guilty to using her position of trust to steal their identities, making thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases.

“The defendant agreed to pay restitution to the victims,” said Vincent Sottosanti, who handles financial crimes for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. “Our victim witness advocates are still working with the victims to make sure they're not having to continue to make payments on these credit cards.”

He said he feels the judge handed down a fair sentence that “gives justice to the victims.” But still, their credit ratings have taken a more long-term hit.

“One of the victims, their daughter is having difficulty getting student loans because the defendant took out some student loans in her name,” Sottosanti said.

Coordination between different agencies and adequate interpreting, he said, played vital roles in getting the refugees back on the road to establishing their lives in Tucson.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.