CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A South Carolina man who posed as a Charlotte-area pastor and State Bureau of Investigation agent to steal victims’ money was arrested following an investigation by the SBI, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.
Justin DeWayne Moore, 23, of Greenwood, South Carolina, was arrested Monday afternoon by the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and taken into custody based on North Carolina arrest warrants on charges of extortion and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
He faces extradition to Mecklenburg County.
The SBI said Moore ran the scheme along with two family members, including one who is currently incarcerated in a South Carolina prison. Additional arrests may be forthcoming.
The scheme allegedly started on social media, according to reports from victims. Each victim was friended by someone he thought was a woman on social media website mocospace.com, where they chatted and exchanged telephone numbers.
The woman then exchanged nude photos with her new online friends, according to SBI.
Victims said they soon got a call from someone who identified himself as the woman’s father.
The man, who claimed to be a pastor, allegedly said that he had discovered the photos on his underage daughter’s phone and confronted her, and that she then threw her phone through a window of his church. The man followed up by telling the victim to delete the photos and then asking for help paying to fix the broken window and replace the phone. He also told victims that if they didn’t pay, he would report the matter to the SBI.
According to victims, they next received a call from someone claiming to be an agent with the SBI and using the name of the actual SBI special agent in charge for the Charlotte field office of the SBI.
The person posing as the SBI agent told them to pay between $200 and $400 each via Green Dot MoneyPak cards, a type of reloadable debit card, or face arrest on criminal charges, according to the SBI.
The SBI first learned of the scam when victims began to contact the real SBI agent whose name the scammers used. SBI agents worked with their counterparts in South Carolina to unravel the scheme and make the arrest.
Victims are urged to contact the SBI at 1-800-334-3000.