Crime & Courts

He posed as a lawyer to rake in cash. The scheme stopped in Columbia, US Attorney says

A 47-year-old Georgia man was arrested after he pretended to be a lawyer in a U.S.-wide wire fraud scheme, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Phillip Asher, who also went by Phillip Reynolds, made friends with women across the southeast and midwest and pretended to be an attorney to get money from them, according to the statement.

Investigators with the FBI caught on to Asher after a Chinese food restaurant owner in Northeast Columbia reported the sceme, according to the statement. Asher, who used to work at the restaurant, was trying to extort money from his former employer using his lawyer shtick.

Asher told the restaurant owner he would sue him and have a family member deported if his former employer didn’t pay $300,000, according to the statement.

During a sting operation at a Columbia bank, Asher was caught allegedly taking $250,000 in extortion money, according to the statement. Agents arrested him, and he admitted to pretending to be an attorney to get the money.

Asher pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, which could come with 20 years in prison with the additional threat of a $250,000 fine.