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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 9, 2018

Orlando Man Sentenced To Seven Years And Four More Indicted For Scheme Involving Impersonating Homeland Security Agents And Wire Fraud

Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Court Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced Ronnie Rolland Montgomery (28, Orlando) to seven years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He pleaded guilty to the offense on September 6 2017. Five others were previously charged in this conspiracy, have pleaded guilty, and are awaiting sentencing.

According to court documents, from at least August 1, 2015, through July 6, 2017, Montgomery was a manager/leader in a criminal organization that demanded money from victims by claiming to be agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or the Cyber Crimes Center (C3). The scheme typically began by one of the conspirators placing a fraudulent post on adult dating websites claiming to be a “nerdy girl seeking nerdy guy.” When the victims responded to the ads, the conspirators would continue to pretend that they were a female seeking companionship. A couple of days later, the conspirators would contact the victims pretending to be federal agents assigned to the “C3 Child Exploitation Division” or other components of DHS. They would accuse the victims of soliciting a minor on the internet and falsely claim that there was an outstanding warrant for the victims’ arrest. Victims were contacted from fraudulent email addresses that appeared to be from a law enforcement agency. The conspirators also used spoof apps on the victims’ phones to make it appear as if they were calling from a law enforcement number. After contact, victims were told that they could pay a “fine” or “fees” so that the purported warrant would be “purged” or “cleared.” To pay these “fines” or “fees,” victims were instructed to go to a money service business, and use either Ria, MoneyGram, or Western Union to wire money to satisfy their “fines” or “fees.” Victims were directed to address these wire transfers to a real name of one of the conspirators or to one of their aliases, after which the defendants would take turns picking up the payments. Victims were then traded among the conspirators to continue deriving more money from the scheme. The victims, many of which were members of the military, or elderly, would send multiple extortion payments, ranging from $200 to $1,900, per transaction because they feared arrest. Law enforcement estimates that the scheme generated over $342,000 in profits. 

In addition, on March 7, 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Donte Sherrick Harris (30, Kissimmee), Jean David Jules, a/k/a ‘Zoe,” a/k/a “Zoe Chappo” (33, Haitian national), Jonathan Wayne Thorne (27, Kissimmee), and Jason Tyiwuan Green (21, Orlando) with wire fraud for their involvement in the same scheme.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI/San Diego), with assistance from the following partnering agencies – the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (San Diego), and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.  It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Christina R. Downes and Brandon Bayliss, who are both on assignment from the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, ICE.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated March 9, 2018