CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A South Carolina inmate has been sentenced to federal prison for participating in an elaborate scheme to extort money out of military members.
Darnell Khan (39) was serving a 25-year sentence in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) on voluntary manslaughter and attempted armed robbery charges.
According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, Khan smuggled phones into the SCDC and created profiles on dating apps posing as a young woman.
While on the apps, Khan would target men in the military and solicit nude photos. Then, Khan would pose as the woman’s father and claim that she was underage, telling the men who sent the photos that they were participating in child pornography.
The victims were told to pay a fee or risk being arrested and/or dishonorably discharged.
At least 40 victims paid a total of $62,500.71 to Khan between January and July of 2017.
Khan was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision, to be served after his existing 25-year sentence is complete.
The case was investigated by the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS), Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), and SCDC.
Beyond the immediate impacts of this particular case, investigators said it highlights two overarching threats they are working to eliminate in general: threats to force readiness and the dangers of cell phones in detention facilities.
Investigators from NCIS and DCIS said that they “will not tolerate the existence of sextortion rings like this that degrade the readiness of our military force,” and that they will “continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our Warfighters from sextortion crimes.”
U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs pointed out that “nothing good comes from smartphones in prison.” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said it all could have been avoided if officials had the ability to jam cell signals in prison. He called on Congress “to support a hearing on the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act and allow states to use technology to stop inmates from using these illegal phones to prey on innocent victims.”