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South Carolina man arrested in catfishing extortion scheme against Gainesville man

Scott Andrew Travelstead, 34, was arrested on January 4 and charged with extortion, grand theft, and using a 2-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

According to the sworn complaint, the victim reported on January 24, 2020, that on February 17, 2019, he had begun communicating with a woman (later determined to be fictional) on a dating website. The site requires participants to be over 18, so the victim said he believed the woman to be an adult. After sending him nude pictures, the woman told the victim she was 16 years old. Believing he had committed a crime, the victim deleted her information.

Shortly after, the victim received calls and messages through a different app from a person later identified by law enforcement to be Travelstead. The person who sent the messages claimed to be the woman’s father and began to extort money from the victim, saying he would contact law enforcement and a news station if payment were not made. Over the next eight months, the victim paid $19,290 to various accounts, all allegedly registered to Travelstead.

The victim was contacted by a detective in Indiana who was investigating several similar cases. The detective had tracked his victim’s transfers to Travelstead, and Travelstead’s account identified several other potential victims. The victim in Gainesville was advised to make a report to Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO).

The detective in Indiana told ASO that Travelstead is a documented Folk Nation member in South Carolina and is the leader of Folk subset “Creep Gang.” Travelstead and other inmates “phished from several dating websites” and “organized the smuggling of cell phones into the prison through corrupt ambulance crews.” That detective has initiated attempts to recover funds for the identified victims from an account in Travelstead’s name with $114,000.

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Travelstead was transported to Alachua County after he completed a sentence with the South Carolina Department of Corrections. He has now been released from the Alachua County Jail on $150,000 bail.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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