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Former Senate staffer sentenced for defrauding three women

Created date

November 24th, 2015
scam alert graphic
scam alert graphic

When you click on an email from a Nigerian prince asking for financial help, hopefully, your guard is up. You know that scammers frequently use the Internet to bilk people out of their money. 

When you answer the telephone and hear someone offering you a deal that sounds too good to be true, your guard is up because you know there are a lot of telephone scammers out there. 

When you call a U.S. Senate office to ask for help, you probably aren’t anticipating being scammed. However, that is exactly what happened to Teresa Loudermilk, 61, and two other women who became embroiled with an unscrupulous longtime senate staffer.

When Loudermilk’s military vet husband passed away, she had trouble getting the survivor benefits she was due. She called a U.S. Senate committee office to ask for help. The man who answered the phone was Robert Lee Foster, 65, formerly of Falls Church, Va. He had worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for over 40 years. He promised to help her. 

Conned instead

Foster used his considerable charm and charisma to earn Loudermilk’s trust, then turned around and conned her out of $9,000, telling her a phony story about needing to pay off a tax debt before he could collect retirement benefits. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Foster didn’t help her get the benefits. She still hasn’t received them. 

What makes this story even worse is that Loudermilk isn’t Foster’s only victim. Naomi Allen, 75, met Foster at a coffee shop at Maryland’s BWI Airport. Over time, he used his charm to develop an intimate relationship with Allen, earning her trust, then bilking her out of $461,000.

Foster had another victim who declined to give her name in court but says that Foster conned her, too. In each case, Foster claimed he needed money for litigation costs and business expenses and promised to pay the women back. He never did. Contrary to what Foster told his victims, prosecutors say that Foster used the money for golf outings, vacations, and luxury clothing.

In court, Foster admitted that to perpetuate the scheme, he gained the victims’ trust and confidence then made false statements to convince them to send him money. A federal judge sentenced him to 38 months in jail. In addition, he must forfeit $499,622.54 and pay $503,003.37 in restitution.  

“I screwed up,” said Foster at his sentencing hearing, expressing remorse for the disgrace it brought on his family. He also expressed remorse toward his victims, saying, “I stand before you to let you know I have betrayed your trust, I have betrayed your kindness, and I have betrayed your friendship...I am asking you to forgive me.”

The lesson here is that there is no safe haven. You must always keep your guard up because fraudsters and scammers are lurking around every corner—even in places where you least expect them.