Romance Scammer Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges, Admitting He Stole Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars from Nearly 20 Victims
LOS ANGELES – An Orange County man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for defrauding 19 victims – some of whom he developed romantic relationships with – and then laundering the proceeds of his scheme
Ze’Shawn Stanley Campbell, 35, of Irvine, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
According to his plea agreement, from April 2014 to April 2020, Campbell convinced his victims that he was reliable by befriending them and starting romantic relationships with them. To enhance his purported creditworthiness in their eyes, he told them lies, such as falsely saying that he had millions of dollars and operated successful businesses, including McDonald’s franchises, a security company and a chain of gyms in Texas. Campbell also boosted his stature with the victims by falsely telling them he was a successful investor in real estate and Bitcoin, as well as claiming he had served as a Navy SEAL in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Having convinced his victims of his bona fides, Campbell induced them to provide money and property to him, claiming that he would use the victims’ money and property to support his businesses, fund investments made on the victims’ behalf and pay his purported medical bills. Rather than use the victims’ money as he promised, however, Campbell used it to pay personal expenses and to buy luxury items for himself.
For example, in December 2017, one victim wrote Campbell a check for $61,452, which Campbell deposited via interstate wires into a Wells Fargo bank account he controlled. Campbell promised the victim that the money would be used for an investment in Bitcoin on the victim’s behalf. In fact, Campbell spent the money on himself, including by making payments on a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz that he had leased in a different victim’s name.
In total, Campbell admitted to causing losses of at least $250,000 and up to $1.5 million to 19 different victims, including 10 individuals and nine companies.
United States District Judge Mark C. Scarsi scheduled a January 9 sentencing hearing, at which time Campbell will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Ranee A. Katzenstein, Chief of the Major Frauds Section, is prosecuting this case.