15 ID’d in ‘sextortion’ scheme involving inmates in SC, NC, charged with targeting military members on dating websites
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced the names of the 15 people in South Carolina and North Carolina who have been indicted in federal court with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, extortion, and money laundering.
In addition to the five South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) inmates identified on Wednesday, the others are:
- WENDELL WILKINS, 30, of Ridgeville, South Carolina
- RAKEEM SPIVEY, 27, of Bishopville, South Carolina
- JIMMY DUNBAR, 37, of Bishopville, South Carolina
- ANTWINE LAMAR MATTHEWS, 28, of Bishopville, South Carolina
- DAVID PAUL DEMPSEY, 31, of Ridgeville, South Carolina
- EDGAR JERMAINE HOSEY, 34, of Aiken, South Carolina
- JALISA THOMPSON, 30, of Spartanburg, South Carolina
- TIFFANY REED, 34, of Charlotte, North Carolina
- BRANDON THOMPSON, 25, of Spartanburg, South Carolina
- LABEN MCCOY, 40, of Orangeburg, South Carolina
- ROSELYN PRATT, 28, of Longs, South Carolina
- MITCHLENE PADGETT, 52, of Batesburg, South Carolina
- MALCOLM COOPER, 27, of Rock Hill, South Carolina
- ANDREIKA MOUZON, 28, of Kingstree, South Carolina
- FLOSSIE BROCKINGTON, 28, of Florence, South Carolina
The indictments allege that between at least 2015 through 2017, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, and Dempsey were inmates at SCDC who smuggled smartphones into prison. Using the Internet access on the smartphones, the named inmates and other prisoners at SCDC orchestrated a scheme to defraud members of the United States Military.
The cellphones were then used to target military members on dating websites were the inmates posed as women, sending nude photos and soliciting nudes from the men.
The U.S. Attorney further elaborates:
As a further part of the scheme, after exchanging nude pictures and other personal information, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, Dempsey, and other inmates called the military members and claimed to be the young woman’s father. The named inmates told the military members that the “daughter” was a minor and not 18 or 19 years old as listed on the dating website.
They then threatened to notify the military authorities and/or law enforcement that the military member was exchanging nude pictures with a minor unless the military member paid money. Often times, the named inmates claimed that the money was needed for counseling and medical bills for the trauma that the “underage daughter” suffered from the sexually explicit text messages.
In some instances, other inmates at SCDC who conspired with the named inmates called the military members posing as a police officer and threatened them with arrest unless they paid additional money. The named inmates directed the military members to wire money by means of wire communications in interstate commerce via Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal, and Walmart to individuals in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Furthermore, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, and Dempsey recruited the other ten charged individuals—Jalisa Thompson, Reed, Brandon Thompson, McCoy, Pratt, Padgett, Cooper, Mouzon, Brockington, and Hosey—and others to retrieve the money that was wired by the military members.
After retrieving the wired money, these ten individuals then provided the named inmates with access to the wire funds through various methods at the inmates’ direction, including the use of pre-paid debit cards. In some instances, the individuals provided the named inmates with debit card numbers so they could access the criminal proceeds in prison via smartphones. Other times, the individuals wired the money directly into the inmates’ prison accounts.
The maximum penalty for each count in these Indictments is 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of court-ordered supervision.
“This case should sound the alarm that these kinds of scams are a significant threat to members of our military and to the citizens of South Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “These indictments are just one step in holding these inmates and the defendants on the outside, who allegedly assisted, accountable. We do not lock criminals up only to have them continue their criminal enterprises from inside prison. It is the unfettered use of contraband cell phones that allows inmates to continue harming the public. We are thankful to our partners in state, local, and federal law enforcement and across the military branches for their hard work in bringing the perpetrators of this scheme to justice.”
This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Services, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command, United States Marshals Service, South Carolina Department of Corrections, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Emily Limehouse and Rhett DeHart of the Charleston office are prosecuting the case.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these Indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The issue of contraband cellphones, which has been a top issue among officials at SCDC and an issue for Governor Henry McMaster, is the biggest problem in this case.
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