Fake ‘CIA bro’ used real estate pitches to scam hundreds of thousands of dollars: Feds

On Friday, The Daily Beast
reported on the case of Kiernan Major, a con artist who allegedly pretended to be a CIA officer and used real estate sales pitches to scam people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Counter-espionage missions in China and Russia. Top-secret assignments for the CIA. And can’t-miss real-estate investment opportunities leading to big paydays,” reported Kate Briquelet and Justin Rohrlich. “This is what Kiernan Major allegedly sold to his friends and followers for years, including at least two veterans of the armed forces, who told The Daily Beast that he invited them to invest in his string of businesses, which they say turned out to be shams. Prosecutors say Major also duped two young women out of their savings, for a total of $125,000 combined, before the FBI arrested him last week on stalking charges.”

“As The Daily Beast first reported, authorities say the 26-year-old Marine Corps washout pretended to be a CIA operative who ran his own cyber security firm and even pressured one of the victims, whom he claimed was his then-girlfriend, to drain her bank accounts to pay for his hotels, airfare, and other expenses all ‘in the name of national security,'” said the report. “A criminal complaint states Major threatened his ex, saying one of the ‘agencies’ he and his firm, EyesOnly, was affiliated with would target her if she didn’t foot his bills. Now acquaintances tell The Daily Beast that Major also scammed them in a real estate enterprise, using tens of thousands he siphoned from them to bankroll his luxurious lifestyle.”

According to the report, Major, who grew up in New York, bounced around between various cities including Los Angeles and Tampa, wowing his marks with images of fancy cars and hotels and preying on women in particular, even though, according to one of his former classmates, “he didn’t have a set home.”

“One acquaintance said that Major seemed to target kids from relatively affluent families in his alleged scams and that he’d take as much as $10,000 from unsuspecting pals,” said the report. “They said that many young people weren’t repaid until their parents confronted his parents, who initially bailed him out. ‘In a small community it’s a difficult call for one family to expose another family’s improprieties, especially knowing that the parents are good people,’ the person said.”

Major was arrested last week in Iowa by the FBI.

Impersonating a former CIA officer is a common tactic by con artists looking to boost their stature, as the CIA is by its nature a secretive agency and doesn’t confirm or deny whether anyone was employed there. In 2020, federal officials arrested former Fox News commentator Wayne Simmons, who presented himself as a former CIA officer but in fact wasn’t one, after he too tried to scam people with fake real estate opportunities.

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