5 Inmates Among 15 Defendants Indicted for Wire Fraud, Extortion, and Money Laundering Scheme at SCDC
Columbia, South Carolina -------- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that 15 individuals from South Carolina and North Carolina were charged in federal court with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Extortion, and Money Laundering. These individuals are:
- WENDELL WILKINS, age 30, of Ridgeville, South Carolina;
- RAKEEM SPIVEY, age 27, of Bishopville, South Carolina;
- JIMMY DUNBAR, age 37, of Bishopville, South Carolina;
- ANTWINE LAMAR MATTHEWS, age 28, of Bishopville, South Carolina;
- DAVID PAUL DEMPSEY, age 31, of Ridgeville, South Carolina;
- EDGAR JERMAINE HOSEY, age 34, of Aiken, South Carolina;
- JALISA THOMPSON, age 30, of Spartanburg, South Carolina;
- TIFFANY REED, age 34, of Charlotte, North Carolina;
- BRANDON THOMPSON, age 25, of Spartanburg, South Carolina;
- LABEN MCCOY, age 40, of Orangeburg, South Carolina;
- ROSELYN PRATT, age 28, of Longs, South Carolina;
- MITCHLENE PADGETT, age 52, of Batesburg, South Carolina;
- MALCOLM COOPER, age 27, of Rock Hill, South Carolina;
- ANDREIKA MOUZON, age 28, of Kingstree, South Carolina; and
- FLOSSIE BROCKINGTON, age 28, of Florence, South Carolina.
The Indictments allege that from at least 2015 through 2017, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, and Dempsey (the “named inmates”) were inmates at the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) who smuggled smartphones into prison. Using the Internet access on the smartphones, the named inmates and other prisoners at SCDC orchestrated a scheme to defraud members of the United States Military.
As part of the scheme, the named inmates used smartphones to join Internet dating websites and pose as young women seeking romantic relationships. On the dating websites, the named inmates targeted young male service members. After meeting the service members on the dating websites, the named inmates texted nude pictures of young women that they obtained from the Internet, claiming these nude pictures were of the woman that they were impersonating on the dating website. After they texted nude pictures, they asked the military members to text nude pictures and other personal information in return.
As further part of the scheme, after exchanging nude pictures and other personal information, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, Dempsey, and other inmates called the military members and claimed to be the young woman’s father. The named inmates told the military members that the “daughter” was a minor and not 18 or 19 years old as listed on the dating website. They then threatened to notify the military authorities and/or law enforcement that the military member was exchanging nude pictures with a minor unless the military member paid money. Often times, the named inmates claimed that the money was needed for counseling and medical bills for the trauma that the “underage daughter” suffered from the sexually explicit text messages. In some instances, other inmates at SCDC who conspired with the named inmates called the military members posing as a police officer and threatened them with arrest unless they paid additional money. The named inmates directed the military members to wire money by means of wire communications in interstate commerce via Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal, and Walmart to individuals in South Carolina and North Carolina.
As further part of the scheme, Wilkins, Spivey, Dunbar, Matthews, and Dempsey recruited the other ten charged individuals—Jalisa Thompson, Reed, Brandon Thompson, McCoy, Pratt, Padgett, Cooper, Mouzon, Brockington, and Hosey—and others to retrieve the money that was wired by the military members.
After retrieving the wired money, these ten individuals then provided the named inmates with access to the wire funds through various methods at the inmates’ direction, including the use of pre-paid debit cards. In some instances, the individuals provided the named inmates with debit card numbers so they could access the criminal proceeds in prison via smartphones. Other times, the individuals wired the money directly into the inmates’ prison accounts.
The maximum penalty for each count in these Indictments is 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of court-ordered supervision.
“This case should sound the alarm that these kinds of scams are a significant threat to members of our military and to the citizens of South Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “These indictments are just one step in holding these inmates and the defendants on the outside, who allegedly assisted, accountable. We do not lock criminals up only to have them continue their criminal enterprises from inside prison. It is the unfettered use of contraband cell phones that allows inmates to continue harming the public. We are thankful to our partners in state, local, and federal law enforcement and across the military branches for their hard work in bringing the perpetrators of this scheme to justice.”
This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Services, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command, United States Marshals Service, South Carolina Department of Corrections, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Emily Limehouse and Rhett DeHart of the Charleston office are prosecuting the case.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these Indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.