A man was sentenced to nine years behind federal bars this week for allegedly sending threatening text messages to several California-based victims in attempts to extort them for $500,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles announced.
Las Vegas-based Brian S. Martin, 39, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, transmitting threatening interstate communications, receiving the proceeds of extortion, interstate racketeering and more. Fellow Vegas resident Travis Zipper, 29, was found guilty in the same extortion scheme last year; he was put behind bars for three years.
Authorities say that, after Martin lost money investing in an African gold mining operation, he tried to track down people associated with the mining investment but ultimately prayed upon people who didn't have anything to do with it.
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He targeted several innocents and sent them threatening text messages under different aliases. He said he would hurt them and their loved ones. In one text, he said, "We will say hello to [your relative] for you in person this time tough guy. You will regret this. I hope you are ready."
Federal authorities say he also intimidated one victim by sending a private investigator to take pictures of the person's home; he also sent an associate to another victim's home to announce that someone involved in the African investment was now "in a body bag."
Martin ended up extorting $54,500 from victims.
One victim testified that "my life has been totally altered forever."