Irvine romance scammer who claimed to be Navy SEAL took up to $1.5 million

The Irvine man’s claims were numerous: He was a Navy SEAL, owned McDonald’s franchises, operated a chain of gyms, and was a successful businessman and investor, he said.

The stories of Ze’Shawn Stanley Campbell were connected by a common thread: he needed money from those who heard them.

The 35-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering in a love affair that ran from April 2014 to April 2020, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Campbell cheated on 19 victims, some of whom he developed romantic relationships with, and laundered his winnings according to his agreement.

A victim gave him a check for $61,452 after promising to invest the money in Bitcoin on her behalf, the agreement said.

Instead, he used the money to support his lifestyle, including paying for a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz he leased under a different name from the victim.

“After convincing his victims of his credibility, Campbell arranged for them to provide him with money and property, claiming that he would use the victims’ money and property to support his businesses, fund investments made in the Victims’ names were placed and his alleged medical bills had to be paid,” prosecutors said. “Rather than using the victims’ money as he promised, however, Campbell used it to pay for personal expenses and buy luxuries for himself.”

Per the plea agreement, Campbell also ran a fraud scheme from April 2014 to January 2018.

“Specifically, the defendant would obtain the names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and personal identification information of real people,” court documents said. “The defendant would then use this personal identifying information from real people … to obtain loans and credit cards from the victim financial institutions.”

As part of the plea agreement, Campbell admitted to cheating the victims out of at least $250,000 and up to $1.5 million, prosecutors said. Of the 19 victims, 10 were people and nine were companies.

In a statement to The Times, Campbell’s attorney Pat Harris called the US Attorney’s press release on the guilty plea “misleading and grossly inappropriate for a group that routinely poses as “promoting justice.”

“It is worrying that before all information is released at a hearing before the judge, they release a statement patting themselves on the back and stating that he faces 30 years without mentioning the government that is in the Plea was agreed not to ask for a prison sentence of more than 3-4 years,” Harris said. “This fits into an ongoing pattern in which the [U.S. Department of Justice] Press releases seem more concerned with their own self-aggrandizement than actual justice.”

A hearing on the verdict is scheduled for Jan. 9, prosecutors said. Campbell faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison. Irvine romance scammer who claimed to be Navy SEAL took up to $1.5 million

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