Columbia, South Carolina вЂ” Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that Wendell Wilkins of Spartanburg, was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, for his role in a scheme to extort and defraud armed forces members that was operated from the Southern Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).
Evidence presented to the court showed that, while serving a 12-year phrase in SCDC for attempted armed robbery and using smartphones smuggled into prison, Wilkins accompanied internet dating sites, posed as young women thereon, and started communicating with military people. Posing as young ladies and focusing on armed forces members, Wilkins delivered nude photographs of young females towards the army users and solicited nude photographs along with other personal information in trade. Wilkins, as well as others acting at his way, then posed due to the fact daddy associated with the woman that is young claiming that the young woman had been underage and that the military user was in control of kid pornography. Wilkins and others then threatened to have the army members arrested or dishonorably released unless they paid cash.
As a result of this extortion, solution users transmitted funds via Western Union and MoneyGram to Wilkins’ associates at Wilkins’ direction. From February 2016 through January 2018, Wilkins received at least $74,000.00 in extorted funds, which investigators traced to at the very least 25 victims that are military.
Wilkins ended up being certainly one of numerous inmates at SCDC prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina for playing this scheme to extort members that are military. In total, more than 300 armed forces users throughout the United States were victims for the scheme, as well as the number of loss exceeded $350,000. A few military people committed suicide after dropping target for this extortion scheme.
United states of america District Judge David C. Norton sentenced Wilkins to 66 months in federal prison and 3 years of supervised release become offered after Wilkins completes their state prison that is 12-year sentence. There isn’t any parole into the system that is federal.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Air Force Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID), united states of america Marshals provider, Southern Carolina Department of Corrections, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
“Nothing comes that are g d smartphones in prison,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Inmates use them to commit even more crimes while behind bars. We wish this prosecution helps state officials prevent and contraband that is disable in jail.”
“Mr. Wilkins knowingly used trickery and deceit to victim on those that provide our country. It’s unconscionable to think that the defendant perpetuated this years-long economic scam against servicemembers while currently in prison for other criminal activity,” stated Mona Passmore, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Charlotte Field Office. ” We are going to continue to work with our law enforcement lovers to unravel this as well as other complex monetary and cash laundering schemes where individuals try to conceal the true source of their income and use the net to mask their true identification. This additional felony that is federal and federal prison term need a strong deterrent effect against some other unlawful activity Mr. Wilkins among others might consider pursuing.”
“Mr. Wilkins is entitled to be held completely in charge of their part in this scheme that is reprehensible deceive and defraud our nation’s solution people,” said NCIS Carolinas Field Office Special Agent in control Sean Devinny. “This sentencing should serve as a warning that NCIS and our law enforcement lovers use every resource offered to make sure these networks that are criminal damaged. I’d like to sincerely thank our lovers for his or her dedication that is continued and in keeping our service members safe.”
“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service appears devoted to aggressively pursue and investigate arranged criminals whom target our solution people and undermine their combat readiness and wellbeing,” said Unique Agent in control Christopher Dillard, DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “We hope this situation shows the resolve of DCIS and our police force partners to uphold the integrity regarding the Department of Defense and protect our Warfighters.”
“The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is dedicated to being truly a investigative that is vital aimed at finding the truth, thwarting all threats, and marketing unfailing justice for the Department regarding the Air Force, Department of Defense, and nation,” said Special Agent in control Craig Hotaling, OSI Detachment 310, Joint Base Charleston, SC. ” We shall continue to make use of our police force lovers to safeguard the personnel associated with the usa Air Force and area Force.”
“This instance highlights the outstanding partnerships of OSI with our law that is fellow enforcement to safeguard Department of Defense personnel,” said Colonel Tamara Henderson, Commander, OSI area 3, Scott AFB, IL. “OSI continues to determine, exploit and neutralize unlawful threats targeting the Department of this Air Force, Space Force, plus the Department of Defense.”