When the man Tammy Hamrin met through a dating website told her he was in trouble and needed money, the title company owner was eager to help.
Hamrin met “Leo” in January 2018 through OurTime.com, an online dating site for people over 50, according to court records. She quickly fell in love with him and thought he loved her, too.
Initially Hamrin, now 58, sent Leo money from her personal funds. But when he said he needed substantially more, she started dipping into real estate escrow accounts she controlled through her longtime business, Preferred Escrow & Title, in Virginia Beach. The accounts contained funds set aside for dozens of real estate closings in which Hamrin was involved.
While she knew it was wrong to withdraw from the accounts, Hamrin was sure Leo would pay it back and she wanted to help him come to the United States, according to documents filed by her attorney, Andrew Page of Suffolk. In all, she wired him $715,000 in escrow money.
By Feb. 5, 2018—just weeks after Hamrin met “Leo”—she realized she’d been scammed. Her world quickly began to fall apart, Page wrote. The 48 real estate closings she was involved in were left with insufficient funds and thrown into disarray.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson sentenced Hamrin to 18 months in prison. He also ordered six months of home confinement after her release, then three years of probation. And he said she must reimburse all the money she took.
So far, she’s paid back about $400,000, leaving a balance of $315,000, her attorney said. Some of the money came from the sale of her home.
Hamrin pleaded guilty in March to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
While federal sentencing guidelines suggested she serve 2½ to 3½ years, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Salsbury recommended the 18-month term.
Salsbury said she deserved credit for admitting to her crime quickly, cooperating with investigators and paying back a substantial amount of the stolen money. The longtime prosecutor also noted she’d been scammed, and hadn’t personally benefited from the theft, which he said is unusual in wire fraud cases.
Page asked the judge to consider home confinement and probation for his client.
“She’s literally lost everything,” he said. “She had an excellent reputation as a settlement agent before this incident. And it’s bad. But she’s taken as many actions as she can to remedy the situation.”
Jackson, however, said the seriousness of the crime warranted prison time.
“People relied on you to be honest and responsible. They put their trust in you,” the judge said to Hamrin. “You let your personal interests override your professional duties. That’s something you can’t do.”
Hamrin tearfully apologized before the sentence was handed down.
“There’s no excuse. I should have known better,” she told the judge. “I was trying to help someone and in turn I’ve hurt so many others.”
A man who allegedly romanced at least eight women in three states that he met through dating websites out of $267,361 has been charged with mail fraud.
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, email@example.com