• SC man accused of blackmailing woman out of $18K, pretending to hold gun to her head

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    ORANGEBURG, S.C. - An investigator said a woman swindled out of $18,000 became so paranoid someone was going to attack her that she didn't even want to be interviewed in a room with windows.

    [ALSO READ: Florida woman accused of extortion for posting man's explicit photos online]

    A judge ordered Mike Phillips to serve five years in prison for blackmail after he pleaded guilty Tuesday in Orangeburg County.

    The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg report that authorities determined Phillips convinced the woman she could get custody of her daughter during a divorce if she hired a private investigator.

    Prosecutors said Phillips created a character named "Trell" who demanded money from the victim and even pretended to hold a gun against her head.

    Police began investigating after the woman told workers at a mental hospital why she cut both her arms.

    Phillips apologized before he was sentenced.

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