Ohio man swindles nearly $1 million from Minnesotans in Social Security scam: Charges

An Ohio man is accused of swindling nearly $1 million from Minnesota victims in a phone scam claiming their Social Security numbers were compromised and being used by drug traffickers and money launderers. 

According to court records, in late 2021 a 72-year-old man received a phone call stating his Social Security number was compromised and had been used to purchase a vehicle that was trafficking drugs and documents. The caller explained in order to get a new Social Security number he would need to "cash out" his retirement accounts to remain below a certain amount. 

The victim was told to send a cashier’s check to an address and not to tell anyone about the phone calls or transactions. The 72-year-old man transferred funds from his retirement account and additional money from his wife’s bank account totaling $786,000.

The victim split the money between four cashier’s checks and sent it to 68-year-old James Eshleman home address in Ohio. 

A 51-year-old man from Farmington also fell victim to the scheme stating he received a call in early 2021 that his Social Security number had been used by money launders and drug traffickers. He was given information that a man named "John" would be contacting him, and he was instructed to send money to several people. 

Between February 2021 and May 2021, the victim sent cash, certified cashier’s checks and a wire transfer to several people. A cashier’s check worth $130,786 was made out to Jim Eshleman Construction LLC and sent to a Walgreens store in Ohio. Eshleman was seen on surveillance video picking up the check, according to charges. 

Hennepin County prosecutors charged Eshleman via summons on Friday with one count of theft by swindle. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 13. Court records say the victims in Minnesota lost $916,786 in the scheme. 

Eshleman is currently in Ohio on probation for a felony money laundering conviction in which he used the same scheme and received $187,449.40 from a woman he told her Social Security number was compromised.