Oklahoma Inmate Sentenced to 46 Months for Role in Prison-Based Phone Fraud and Extortion Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that DARRIK FORSYTHE, 37, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in prison-based phone fraud and extortion scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in December 2011, federal law enforcement agents began investigating a series of criminal schemes being conducted by inmates of Lawton Correctional Facility (“LCF”), a medium security, privately owned, correctional facility located in Lawton, Oklahoma. The investigation revealed that LCF inmates, including FORSYTHE, had access to smuggled cellular phones. Using the smuggled phones, FORSYTHE and others befriended gay men on phone-based chat lines. Then, using false promises and, in certain cases, threats, FORSYTHE and others induced victims to send them cash or prepaid debit cards. Several men across the country were victimized through this scheme.
Between approximately February 2011 and October 2011, FORSYTHE and at least three other LCF inmates obtained a total of $674,100 from one Connecticut resident through this scheme. The victim had befriended an individual named “Joe” on Megamates, a phone-based dating service. Shortly thereafter, individuals began to call the victim demanding money. The callers threatened to reveal the victim’s sexual orientation and cause physical harm to the victim or his family if the victim did not comply. The callers initially demanded cash, and then instructed the victim to send prepaid debit card numbers. As the scheme progressed, the callers demanded increases in the money from several hundreds of dollars to $5,000 or more, multiple times per week.
The victim contacted law enforcement after depleting his family’s $670,000 inheritance for which he served as the custodian. He committed suicide in 2014.
On April 30, 2014, FORSYTHE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
As part of his sentence, FORSYTHE was ordered to pay full restitution.
FORSYTHE has been serving a 20-year sentence for robbery since 2002. His federal sentence will begin at the conclusion of his state sentence.
A second LCF inmate, Sean Siwek, was prosecuted in the Western District of Oklahoma for his role in a similar scheme. (U.S. v. Sean Siwek 5:14cr355).
This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Connecticut Resident Office, with assistance from the Secret Service’s Oklahoma field offices, the Lawton, Oklahoma resident agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Novick of the District of Connecticut, with the assistance of members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.