Prisoner sentenced for sextortion scheme targeting troops

by Tommy Grant

A 31-year-old prison inmate was sentenced to nearly three years for orchestrating an extortion scheme that targeted troops, resulting in one service member’s suicide.

From at least 2016 to 2022, Javarius Teague an inmate in the South Carolina Department of Corrections ran a conspiracy that involved at least six others who joined internet dating websites and posed as young women seeking romantic relationships with military members, according to court documents.

Teague and others would then text nude photographs of young women, claiming they were the women in the photos.

They would then ask the military members to send nude photos of themselves.

Once Teague and his crew derived the photos, they would then contact the service member from other phone numbers claiming to be family members of the young women or law enforcement. They would then tell the military members that the girls in the photos were minors and threaten to notify authorities unless the military member paid them money.

They claimed the money was needed for counseling and other expenses “derived from the sexually explicit text messages.”

Alleged co-conspirators referenced in the indictment, who were not in prison, retrieved the money extorted from the military members through transfers made using MoneyGram locations throughout South Carolina.

The co-conspirators would then transfer funds to Teague in prison using Green Dot and J Pay.

The extortion scheme came to the attention of authorities in December 2017 when a service member died from suicide rather than pay money that the crew attempted to extort, according to a prosecutor’s statement.

The service member was not identified in public documents.

Teague pleaded guilty to money laundering involving racketeering on June 1, 2023.

On May 8, 2024, he was sentenced to 33 months in prison followed by three years supervised release.

Co-defendants Cassandra Poole and Shuntonia Lamar both pleaded guilty to money laundering in February 2023 and were sentenced to 14 months each.

Tiarra Poole-Sullivan and Tirrian Gaines also pleaded guilty to money laundering in February 2023 and were sentenced to four months.

The case was investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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