Oh, Jacob Wohl – You’ve been a naughty monkey, haven’t you?
It appears that trying to have a decorated veteran and lawman falsely labeled as a “rapist” wasn’t even the full extent of the disgraced internet troll’s despicable shenanigans.
In fact, for those who think the fraudulent company, Surefire Intelligence was simply a ploy to go after special counsel Robert Mueller, understand that it was, in fact, a full-on scam for anyone unfortunate enough to stumble into it.
Adams found an ad for Surefire Intelligence on Craigslist. After reading about its Israeli intelligence agents and well-traveled experts in financial and criminal investigations, along with several glowing write-ups on the publishing platform, Medium, she was convinced that this was a legitimate company, and just the kind of help she needed.
Adams had spoken with the firm’s ostensible managing partner, Matthew Cohen, last Friday, and he was optimistic about recovering tens of thousands of dollars from the man whom Adams accused of stealing her Hummer. They were scheduled for an in-person meeting in Portland, Oregon, near her home in southern Washington, on Tuesday.
Then the whole thing blew up. Cohen, it turns out, doesn’t actually exist. His real name is Jacob Wohl, and he’s a pro-Trump twitter troll and former teenage hedge fund manager with the dubious distinction of being the youngest person ever to earn a lifetime trading ban from the National Futures Association.
Adams had the poor luck of hiring Wohl just weeks before the Surefire facade came crashing down. Unbeknownst to her, Wohl and his firm—such as it is—had teamed up with Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman to peddle questionable sexual assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They unveiled their claims against Mueller on Thursday at a press conference in Northern Virginia that quickly went off the rails as reporters grilled Wohl about, among other topics, his qualifications as a private investigator.
That’s right. Wohl, presenting himself as “Matthew Cohen” scammed Adams out of $1,200 before it all came crashing down, revealed to the world to be a total con.
I guess Adams didn’t recognize the celebrities listed as employees.
At the Thursday press conference slash comedy show, Wohl was asked by a reporter from The Daily Beast if he had a private investigators license in any state. He danced around the question, never directly answering.
He later acknowledged that Adams had enlisted his services, but insisted that those services didn’t require such a license. “There are certain matters which require PI licenses,” he said. “We never take those jobs under any circumstances.”
It’s too bad for Adams. She’d gone through a nasty divorce in 2015 and was essentially homeless, after being kicked out of her house. For two years, she’d lived out of her hummer, up until it was stolen.
“I was looking for a paralegal to help me with some court documents at the time on Craigslist, the legal services section, and I came across an ad that said ‘have you been scammed? Do you need a private investigator?’” she recalled. “So I’m like, well, yes I do!”
The ad was from Surefire Intelligence. Adams did some research on the company before reaching out. “If you initially looked, three weeks ago, [Wohl’s] agency looked crisp. He had LinkedIn. He had a beautiful website. He had Medium.com reviews. He had—the whole first few pages of Google was him. So anyone with a sound mind would think ‘hey this is a legitimate business.’”
I’m going to remind everybody that the numbers listed on the website go back to Wohl’s mom’s phone. Those numbers have since been disconnected.
When she finally got on the phone with Wohl—who was then presenting himself as Cohen—he told her, “we can help you with. This is exactly what we do.” Adams wired him $1,200 and signed a retainer agreement, which is largely identical to publicly-available copies of contracts offered by more legitimate public investigation agencies.Wohl signed it as Matthew Cohen, according to a copy of the agreement provided by Adams.
I’m no legal eagle, but even I know that’s fraud.
It’s also morally repugnant, as this woman was living out of her car and he took $1,200 from her.
Wohl, acting as the non-existent Matthew Cohen, led Adams to believe he was making progress and tracking down information on the man she believed had stolen her Hummer.
Then her boyfriend caught wind of Surefire Intelligence’s role in attacking Robert Mueller, as well as the two dullards leading the charge.
Adams started to panic. She couldn’t afford to lose $1,200 to a scam on top of her lost vehicle. All four of the U.S. phone numbers listed on Surefire’s website—Google Voice numbers forwarding to Wohl’s cell phone—were soon disconnected. The LinkedIn pages of Surefire’s supposed employees, many of which used fake headshots, started disappearing. The Medium posts that attested to Surefire’s expertise were also taken down.
On Thursday, after days of outright lies about his association with Surefire, Wohl admitted he was the company’s founder and defended both his expertise as an investigator and his deceptions. “It was important that I preserved my anonymity,” he said at a press conference.
Because he didn’t want to get caught and prosecuted, I suspect.
Still, he did contact Adams on Thursday, several hours before everything hit the fan.
“I have a rough settlement in place with this man who has caused you trouble (offer of $20k),” Wohl wrote, according to a screenshot of the email provided by Adams. “Either we will have a resolution by close of business Friday, or I will give you a full refund, plus 30% for your trouble. That’s how confident I am.”
Adams wasn’t buying it. She knew what he’d been up to, she knew he’d lied and Surefire was not a real company, so she threatened legal action.
“We will talk when I’m back in town tomorrow,” Wohl replied. She has yet to hear from him.
Of course she hasn’t heard from him.
Reached by phone and asked about his work for Adams, Wohl initially refused to say a word, citing a confidentiality agreement, and abruptly hung up. He soon followed up with a text message, in which he accused Adams of lying about her car.
“She hired us to look into her ‘stolen hummer,’” Wohl said. “We looked into it and found that she had actually SOLD the hummer to this guy and was trying to rip him off. Nonetheless, we offered her a refund, which she declined to take.”
The impulsiveness of youth. It really is like a shovel, and it digs that hole deeper and deeper, doesn’t it?
Adams denies Wohl’s assertion, asking what sense it would make for her to pay someone $1,200 to retrieve a truck she’d sold?
The whole episode has left Adams wondering if she’ll ever get reimbursed for her Hummer. She said she remained in awe of “how far [Wohl] went to make himself look professional, How much money he put into.” But she still has some hope that Wohl might eventually come through.
“I think he actually was going to go after [the alleged car thief] for me,” Adams says. “I think all this blew up in his face.”
I guess in her position, she has little else left to cling to, but hope.