78 Months for Demanding Donation “Refund”

Jamie Walsh of Memphis, Tenn. was given a 78-month federal prison sentence for scamming nearly a quarter-million dollars from more than 100 organizations, the majority of which were nonprofits. Walsh pled guilty to one count of bank fraud on March 3 after being initially charged with eight counts of bank fraud, false or fraudulent claims, fraud by wire, radio, or television and frauds and swindles, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The sentence was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Department of Justice for the Western District of Tennessee via a press release.

Walsh was accused of defrauding a wide range of organizations between June 2013 and March 2019, including charities, environmental groups, the Peace Corps and religious groups, according to the U.S. Attorney’s statement. A typical Walsh scam would involve his making an online donation of a large amount of money — $4,500, for example – to an organization, and then reaching out to the organization and claiming the amount was a typo.

The correct amount, Walsh would claim, should have been $45, and he demanded a refund of the balance. Walsh would often seek to expedite his “refunds” by claiming his supposed overpayment prevented him from paying rent or making payments on his car, according to the Charlotte Observer. In some instances, Walsh would claim that his promised refund had not come through, and would demand another, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Those organizations that gave him a refund would transfer money to his account, which Walsh would immediately withdraw. In the meantime, Walsh’s initial “donation” would be rejected due to insufficient funds.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Walsh attempted to scam his victims out of $863,736.69, and was successful to the tune of $241,397.33. As reported in the Charlotte Observer, Walsh’s targets included Lifenews.com, an anti-abortion news service; the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, a Catholic Church; and the Convention of States movement, which seeks to limit federal power.

Walsh allegedly received money from Insight for Living, an evangelical ministry, and had asked Life Outreach International, another evangelical ministry, for a double refund after claiming the first one the organization issued hadn’t come through, the Charlotte Observer reported.

In addition to his prison sentence, once out of prison Walsh will have three years of supervised release. Walsh will also have to pay $203,840.70 in victims’ restitution and $241,397.33 in damages.

The case, 2:20-cr-20117-MSN, was investigated by the Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the U.S. Secret Service.