MISSOULA — Matthew Anthony Marshall of Whitefish, who admitted to defrauding a Montana investor of $2.3 million by falsely claiming to be a former Force Recon Marine and CIA operative who needed money to run fake CIA rescue missions in foreign countries, was sentenced in federal court in Missoula on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Marshall, 51 years old, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Prosecutors alleged that in Spring 2013, Marshall began working for John Doe. In a scheme that involved numerous lies, fake emails, and phony texts, Marshall convinced Doe that he was a former CIA operative and a former member of an elite Force Reconnaissance unit in the U.S. Marine Corps who had engaged in covert missions around the world.
Marshall asked Doe if he would fund “off the books” CIA-backed rescue missions, which Marshall said would involve assault teams he would lead in foreign countries. Based on Marshall’s false representations, Doe wired Marshall a series of payments, totaling about $2,355,000, from 2013 to 2016, all under the guise of funding five missions for the CIA as described by Marshall.
As part of the scheme, Marshall forwarded Doe fake text messages, allegedly from Cofer Black, a former CIA officer who was the director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center, lauding his success.
To further the myth that he worked for the CIA under Cofer Black, Marshall obtained fake phone numbers using a phone application, called Burner, and logged two numbers with Virginia area codes into his account as being affiliated with Cofer Black. He then sent himself fake messages, purportedly from Cofer Black. Cofer Black has never been associated with either Virginia number Marshall used with the Burner app and does not know Marshall.
In fact, Marshall was never affiliated with the CIA in any capacity and never served in an elite Force Reconnaissance unit in the Marine Corps. Marshall received an Other Than Honorable discharge from the Marine Corps Reserve in November 1999.
Marshall did not use John Doe’s money for any missions. Rather, Marshall spent the money on personal expenses and loans and gifts to friends and family members. Marshall also failed to report money received from John Doe in 2013 for two purported missions as income on his tax return, resulting in a tax evasion of $356,756.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy presided and sentenced Marshall to six years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.
Judge Molloy also ordered a total of $3,254,327 restitution, with $2,355,000 to be paid to the victim, identified as John Doe, and $899,327 to be paid to the IRS. Judge Molloy accepted a plea agreement in the case and dismissed eight other counts. Marshall was allowed to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Racicot and Ryan Weldon and Trial Attorney Derek Shugert, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice, prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation and FBI.
“Marshall promoted a fantasy world filled with fake missions carried out by fictitious operatives for clandestine agencies in faraway lands for phony purposes. It was all fake, but unfortunately it was paid for with real money from a real victim. And the money never went anywhere except to Marshall’s personal accounts,” U.S. Attorney Johnson said.