4 charged with participating in a scheme to defraud users of a dating website
Taylor, Knight, and Bishop were presented in federal court in South Carolina on October 18 and 19, 2018. Bishop was presented Oct. 26 and Knight was presented Oct. 29 in White Plains federal court. Both were released on a personal recognizance bond. Jones was presented Wednesday. Taylor is expected to appear in federal court in White Plains in the next several days.
“As alleged, these defendants scared their victims into sending them money by fraudulently convincing them they were in peril of criminal prosecution for child exploitation. This alleged fraud was not only cruel, it was also profitable for the defendants – until they were arrested,” stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman.
As alleged in the complaint unsealed Oct. 18 in White Plains federal court, beginning in August 2017, HSI began identifying various individuals who reported that they had been extorted after using a dating website (the “Website”). In general, each victim reported communicating on the Website with an individual the victim believed was an adult. Then, after the victim received and shared sexually-explicit photos with the person the victim believed was an adult, the victim was contacted by a person who claimed that the victim had communicated with an underage minor and needed to pay the minor’s family to prevent law enforcement involvement. The victims made payments via money transfers through Western Union and Walmart and/or through the purchase of Green Dot MoneyPak cards.
Jones, 28, of Greenville, South Carolina, Taylor, 28, of Easley, South Carolina, Knight, 28, of Greer, South Carolina, and Bishop, 21, of Greenville, South Carolina, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
HSI would like to thank the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Police Services Unit; and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in connection with this investigation.
This investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact HSI Tipline at 866-DHS-2-ICE.
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