A 36-year-old Charlotte woman was found guilty of extortion this month for threatening to expose an affair that began on an online dating site where men provide financial allowances and call themselves “Sugar Daddies.”
Jaime Bowen received a suspended sentence of 16 to 29 months in prison, pending successful completion of two years of supervised probation, according to a statement Thursday from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.
The case centered on a felony indictment accusing Bowen of demanding $250,000 while threatening to reveal embarrassing details about the man and their extramarital relationship to his family, employer, and the public, court documents show.
The extortion charge stemmed from a 2017 police investigation. The District Attorney’s Office says investigators uncovered “Bowen’s extortion scheme” and found she may have attempted extortion with up to four other people.
“Bowen communicated with a man with whom she previously had an extramarital relationship and threatened to share intimate details of their relationship with the public through a book she claimed to be writing,” according to the DA’s statement.
Prosecutors alleged that while the book never published, the threats were real.
NC extortion law
While exchange of cash and gifts are common on the dating site, called Seeking Arrangement, the act of extortion is considered a crime. In North Carolina, if a person is found guilty of felony extortion, he or she can be sentenced to 10 months to 3 1/2 years in prison.
“It’s a precarious situation. But when a relationship goes sour, you can’t threaten people,” attorney Nadeen Hayden of Minc Law Firm in Cleveland, Ohio, told the Charlotte Observer in May.
Hayden and a team of lawyers at Minc specialize in defamation, harassment and extortion cases. It’s common, Hayden said, for men who have been Sugar Daddies to face threats and extortion after dating relationships end or as they’re trying to break up.
In some states, lawyers file civil lawsuits against women who threaten to expose an ex-boyfriend or Sugar Daddy affair. But Hayden says North Carolina is one of the few states where police investigations and criminal court are the only recourse for people being extorted.
In the local case, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detective worked undercover after a man called police to say a woman he had a “paid sexual relationship” with was threatening to write a book and expose their affair, the indictment states.
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Their relationship, which began in 2011, originated on the Seeking Arrangement website, court records show.
Seeking Arrangement, which boasts more than 20 million members, defines “Sugar Daddy” as “a modern gentleman with refined taste, exceptional experiences and abundant resources who is looking for someone to share in his extraordinary life and lifestyle and create a meaningful relationship and experiences.”
This article originally published in The Charlotte Observer.