Orlando Men Sentenced To Federal Prison For Scheme Involving Impersonating Homeland Security Agents
Orlando, Florida –U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced John Pierre Mack, III (26, Kissimmee) and David Augusta Jones, III (27, Orlando) to four years and nine years in federal prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. They pleaded guilty in January 2018.
According to court documents, from at least August 2015 through July 6, 2017, the conspirators demanded money from victims by claiming to be agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or the Cyber Crimes Center (C3). Typically, the victims had responded to an online dating post and engaged in a conversation and exchange of photos with a female that they believed was an adult. The victims were later contacted by the schemers posing as “agents,” who alleged that the female from the dating post was under the age of 18. The “agent” would claim that they had an arrest warrant for charges of soliciting a minor and would then direct the victim to make payments for “fines” and “penalties,” in lieu of being arrested. To further their scheme, the “agents” sent paperwork to victims displaying the DHS seal, a judge’s name, and legal terms related to child exploitation. The schemers utilized email addresses containing variants of “child exploitation” and “cybercrimes center” in their correspondence. The victims were directed to retail locations to wire money to pay these “fines” or “fees,” and the conspirators then took turns picking up the payments. The defendants also traded victims with each other to continue the scheme and to get more money. The victims, many of whom were members of the military or elderly, sent multiple extortion payments, ranging from $200 to $1,900 per transaction, fearing they would otherwise be arrested.
Mack was a supervisor/manager in this scheme and received at least 61 extortion payments from victims totaling $79,847. Jones received at least 30 payments from victims totaling $66,684. Law enforcement agents estimate that the scheme generated more than $340,000 in profits.
Four others previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this scheme. Last month, Ronnie Rolland Montgomery (28, Orlando) was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison and Ashley Ferrell (26, Orlando) was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. Dillon McDowell (26, Orlando) will be sentenced on April 26, 2018, and Amaryllis Pagan (20, Kissimmee) will be sentenced on May 29, 2018.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations – Office of Professional Responsibility and Homeland Security Investigations (San Diego), with assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (San Diego) and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Christina R. Downes and Brandon Bayliss, on assignment from the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, ICE.