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Two men say that his latest target was the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), an Indo-American organization that works on behalf of the North American Telugu community, an Indian ethnic group.
Entrepreneur Deelip Mhaske told the Daily Dot that Wohl promised to get President Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to speak at TANA’s biennial conference. The conference consistently attracts thousands and has featured high-profile people such as former President Bill Clinton, who spoke at the 2007 event.
For this year’s event, which 18,000 were set to attend, Mhaske set his sights on getting the Trumps there. An early Trump supporter himself, Mhaske hoped to foster a dialogue about immigration reform between the president and the tech millionaires and billionaires of TANA who rely on Indian immigrants for staffing.
“This is such a hot topic nowadays that everybody wants to contribute,” said Mhaske, who is from India.
Several weeks before the conference, he reached out to the 2020 reelection campaign, which he says told him that the president would attend if they could raise $3 million for Trump’s reelection. (Mhaske’s point of contact with the campaign did not respond to requests for confirmation sent via Facebook messenger or a White House email address Wednesday afternoon.)
Mhaske raised several hundred thousand dollars, certainly no small feat, but nowhere near enough money to secure the president’s attendance. With time running out for the July 4-6, 2019 event, he reached out Shane Bouvet, whom he’d become friends with on Facebook.
Bouvet formerly was a social media coordinator for the Trump campaign. His profile and header pictures on Facebook feature him with the president at an event and in the Oval Office, respectively. “I thought he must know somebody who can do it directly,” Mhaske said.
Bouvet quickly got him on a conference call with someone he thought would be able to help: Jacob Wohl.
Bouvet told the Dot he knew of Jacob Wohl through his father David Wohl. He also apparently knew Jacob Wohl’s reputation on Twitter before he was banned earlier this year. In December 2018, Bouvet chatted with him about it during a now-deleted Facebook Livestream.
“I always had [Jacob] in my phone as somebody who knows somebody,” Bouvet said. “Last year he said he was really good friends with the Trumps.”
Wohl, Mhaske said, was happy to help. He’d personally never heard of the 21-year-old, but says that Wohl talked a great game, dropping the right names and claiming that he’d also get Charlie Kirk to attend. (Kirk did not respond to a request for comment.) Wohl also bragged that he “was going to Ukraine to pull some stuff on Joe Biden.”
“He was really convincing,” Mhaske said.
For his services, Wohl asked for $100,000, half up front, half upon performance. Mhaske agreed.
The three-day event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. was just a day away, but Wohl was confident.
“He said, ‘Oh no worries, I know Don Jr. I’m calling him. I’m calling right now to the scheduler, the president’s scheduler, and Don Jr. … but first you gotta wire money,’” Mhaske said.
Wohl quickly sent a retainer agreement, which Mhaske provided to the Dot. According to the terms of the agreement dated July 3, Vasense Group, which Mhaske says is Wohl’s company, was to:
Put [TANA] in touch with Mr. Donald J. Trump Jr. for the purpose of having him attend the Indian American Biennial Gala at the Washington DC Convention Center, on either July 4th, 5th, or 6th 2019. The Agency [Vasense Group] arrange [sic] an appearance from President Trump on one of the days of the conference. This will constitute a full-court press effort from Mr. Wohl and Mr. Bouvet to add appearances to the event to the President’s calendar and will consist of conversations between AGENCY, CLIENT and Donald Trump Jr. as well as other members of the President’s senior aides.
According to the website, Vasense Group is “an investigative and strategic intelligence firm.”
The address matches that of management consulting firm BDA Global; a representative from the company told the Dot they’d “never heard of” Vasense Group.
Wohl’s Irvine, California, address on the money transfer document Mhaske provided to the Dot matches an address that a separate source claiming Wohl targeted them on a different scam recently provided the Dot.
Bouvet told the Dot he had no idea Wohl was putting his name on the agreement and hadn’t believed that the deal was even going to happen after the initial call.
“I had nothing to do with any of this,” Bouvet said, later adding. “I didn’t think anybody would send that amount of money.”
Mhaske says he arranged to have $50,000 wired to Wohl that day. He provided the Dot with an outgoing wire transfer form confirming this.
At first, he says Wohl asked for it to be sent to his business account; a half-hour later, blaming the time difference between California and D.C., he asked for them to send it to his personal account so he could confirm receipt. TANA sent the money.
Things fell apart pretty quickly after that.
Early the next morning, the first day of the conference, Mhaske texted Wohl for a status update. Wohl reassured him that Kirk and Trump Jr. were confirmed and that the president would be there on July 5.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry, you are in good hands,’” Mhaske said.
Then Mhaske saw an Instagram picture of Trump Jr. fishing in Cape Cod. Concerned, he called Wohl back.
“I said, ‘Jacob what are you talking about, he’s not in D.C., he’s on some island fishing,’” Mhaske recalled.
Wohl scarcely faltered. He promised Mhaske he’d check with his team and told him to call back in an hour.
“Then he switched off his phone, so I was not able to reach him,” Mhaske said.
Mhaske kept texting and texting, to no avail. Eventually, two hours later, Wohl texted that he’d spoken with Kirk and that he and Trump Jr. were going to show. Mhaske called him out for lying and fibbed that a friend of his had confirmed with Trump Jr. that he was not in town and had no clue about the conference.
Wohl, he says, then said he’d send the $50,000 back.
While he waited for the refund, Mhaske did some digging, for the first time learning about Wohl’s previous scams, lies, and epic fails. Alarmed, he texted Wohl and told him to make sure to send the money.
“We got cheated by some 20-year-old kid,” 39-year-old Mhaske said incredulously. (Wohl is 21.)
Wohl responded that he’d told his secretary to return their money and told him to check his account every hour. The money didn’t come.
Mhaske says Wohl then tried to cover his tracks and blame him by contacting people from TANA and claiming that he’d already sent the money. Early July 5, the president of TANA called him to say that Wohl had reached out to say he’d returned the money.
“Jacob went to the organization website, got phone numbers, called them and told them that ‘Deelip might call you guys and say that I didn’t give the money back,’” he said.
Mhaske called Wohl out on his lie, he says, and Wohl again blamed the bank.
Mhaske says that this saga has affected his standing with TANA. “I had built this trust over so many years, and because of this guy I lost it,” he said.
Mhaske next enlisted Bouvet’s help. Bouvet says he was floored to see his name on the agreement.
“I had no idea the thing was happening, I didn’t know a deal was being made,” he told the Dot. “Obviously [Wohl] has no morals, no values, and is just a very disgusting person.”
Both men said that Bouvet worked tirelessly to get the money back, calling and texting Wohl to no avail. “I love Deelip because he’s a really good guy,” Bouvet said. “Knowing that this guy is spending his money that he didn’t earn made me kind of sick to my stomach.”
The two reached out to David Wohl, who they said told his son to return the money. (David Wohl did not return a message seeking confirmation; the outgoing message on the phone number Mhaske provided to the Dot says “this is attorney David Wohl.”)
After his father got involved, Wohl returned half the money, $25,000. The rest, Wohl claimed was being held up by the bank. By then, Mhaske didn’t believe a word he said.
To convince him, Wohl sent him a video of himself on the phone with a “Citibank customer service ‘asking about the status of a wire transfer.
In the video, the agent says that the money had not been transferred. Wohl gets upset, says that it was a refund to a client. The agent then tells him that the bank is processing transfers as they come in. “We do have an hour and a half to work on them,” the agent says. Again Wohl complains about the hassle.
“My client thinks I’m trying to rip him off or something,” Wohl says.
The agent then tells Wohl that someone will call him to confirm the transfer.
Mhaske said that the $25,000 never came. It appears that the video is another of Wohl’s tricks. The phone number displayed on his cell phone is that of Citibank customer service, but Wohl never says where the wire was being sent, or how much it was for.
Wohl then broke off contact. Later he blocked Mhaske’s number.
Soon thereafter, Wohl popped up on Instagram smoking a big cigar.
“Hopefully he goes to prison for a long time. Maybe that would be the best wake up call,” Bouvet said.
Mhaske is now filing suit against Wohl. He said his attorney is attempting to serve him with notice of the suit. He has also spoken with authorities, but hasn’t decided whether to pursue criminal charges.
“Officers need to stop him. He’s going to make someone’s life really, really miserable.” Mhaske said.
Update 2:06pm CT, Aug. 23: After publication, Mhaske reached out to amend the figure Wohl owed him. Wohl returned $30,000, and still owes him $20,000.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.