This week, U.S. attorney Sherri Lydon’s office announced that a 37-year-old Bishopville, S.C. man had been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and extortion charges in connection with this scam – which was run from 2015-2018 by inmates serving time at various S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) facilities.
And their accomplices outside the prison walls …
Jimmy Dunbar Jr. was sentenced by U.S. district court judge David Norton, who ordered his 46-month term be served consecutive to his 30-year sentence at SCDC for murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and arson.
There is no parole in the federal system.
From the news release issued by first assistant U.S. attorney Lance Crick …
Evidence presented to the court showed that Dunbar was involved in a scheme to extort and defraud Department of Defense service members. During the course of the scheme, Dunbar posed as females on a dating app and began communicating with service members. Posing as the females, Dunbar sent nude photographs of young females to the service members and solicited nude photographs in exchange. Dunbar then posed as the females’ father, claiming that the service member was in possession of child pornography and threatening to have him arrested if he did not pay money. The service member then transferred funds electronically to Dunbar’s associates. Dunbar utilized money mules, including a codefendant, who would receive the extorted funds via wire transfer directly from the service members, then transfer the money to Dunbar and other inmates. From September 2016 to January 2017, Dunbar received approximately $29,598.00 in extorted funds, which investigators traced to at least 17 victims.
According to federal prosecutors, SCDC prisoners and their accomplices targeted nearly 450 military personnel during the course of this “sextortion” plot – scamming them out of more than $560,000.
Last October, reporter Kelly Weill with The Daily Beast reported on the existence of an ongoing probe initiated by the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. This investigation focused on an alleged “sextortion” scam run by inmates housed in various SCDC facilities – as well as accomplices outside of the prison system.
Not surprisingly, the “sextortion” scam has revived a contentious debate over cell phones in prisons, which state officials have been trying unsuccessfully for years to “jam.”
Crick’s news release cited cooperation among the following law enforcement agencies: The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), 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 (SCDC), and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Assistant U.S. attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuted the case.
UPDATE: Two “money mules” have also pleaded guilty in connection with the “sextortion” scam, according to a release from Lydon’s office.
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