A high-flying California man claiming to be a CIA operative drained at least two women’s bank accounts and maxed out their credit cards in the name of “national security,” spending more than $125,000 of their money on Ubers, booze, and fancy meals, according to the FBI.
Kiernan Michael Major, 26, used a CIA email address and told the women he lived under multiple aliases “due to his top secret work with the government,” states a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday and obtained first by The Daily Beast.
Major insisted he couldn’t spend his own funds so as not to leave a paper trail that could potentially be exploited by hostile intelligence services, the complaint explains, adding that when the alleged con was exposed, Major began contacting both women up to 1,000 times a day, threatening to kill them, their loved ones, and himself.
“You will have to lock me up for life to stop me from going after you, your family and your friends,” investigators say Major wrote to one of the women last year. “I am insanely creative and have been prepping this for over a year. Don’t ruin your life. I beg you because when you apologize I’ll end up feeling really bad. This will destroy your family without question. My last warning. I just feel it’s moral to warn you. Sorry to harass.”
Earlier this month, Major posted a photograph of himself on Instagram, “depicting a hand holding a firearm,” according to the complaint. On July 10, he allegedly wrote to one of the women, saying, “YOU WILL DIE OVER THIS IF YOU DONT [sic] SMARTEN UP.”
“Both Victim # 1 and Victim # 2 are afraid of Major and believe their personal safety is at risk,” the complaint states.
At the same time, the feds say Major roped his own mother into his alleged scheme, using her to pass a bad check that ultimately bounced and resulted in her arrest. (Major’s mother did not return messages left by The Daily Beast.)
Major, who claims to be an ex-Marine and has posted photos to social media of himself in dress uniform, was arrested Monday in Iowa. A call to his cellphone on Wednesday went straight to voicemail. His court-appointed lawyer, Melanie Keiper, did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
The FBI began investigating Major, who grew up in Auburn, New York, at the end of June, after one of his alleged victims contacted the bureau’s National Threat Operations Center, the complaint states. She had connected earlier in the month with another woman also claiming to have been victimized by Major, who allegedly dangled a high-priced job offer that never materialized before siphoning away nearly $20,000 of her savings.
The woman, identified in the complaint only as “Victim #1,” told agents that she and Major met in high school but that she had known of him since middle school. In 2020, Victim #1 was looking for work and heard from mutual friends that Major was running a successful cybersecurity firm in Los Angeles.
When Victim #1 reached out to Major about a possible job opportunity, he told her that he had “a producer friend, J.R., who was looking for a personal assistant,” according to the complaint. Major said she could work part-time for J.R. and part-time for his company, Digital Spartan LLC—which changed its name to EyesOnly Enterprises in April 2021, state incorporation records say.
Major—who has apparently also tried his hand at real estate and acting—registered the company in Colorado but operated out of an office in L.A. He presented Victim #1 with a formal employment contract, at a salary of $92,500 a year, the complaint states. The job would entail writing emails, running errands, and “managing other day-to-day activities for Major,” it continues. Major showed Victim #1 screenshots of articles about his company, which he claimed worked on projects for the Pentagon and brought in more than $19 million in annual profit. (A search of federal contracting data on Wednesday turned up no payments to any entities under either name.)
“Looking for leverage?” reads a promotional post on EyesOnly’s Instagram page. “EyesOnly is prepared to throw the private intelligence industry into disarray with its highly-distinguished team of veteran military and intelligence officers. Our founding members spent six-years strategically and covertly scanning the universe to retain nothing short of the finest and most extraordinary candidates in the cosmos.”
Victim #1 told the FBI that she moved to L.A. in September 2020 to begin working for Major. However, shortly before she arrived, Major called and said that “due to government involvement with his company, her job would be different and there was more that he could not share over the phone, due to security reasons,” according to the complaint.
Major had Victim #1 complete an SF-86 package, the first step in obtaining a government security clearance, which he sent to her via encrypted email, the complaint states. But while this may have seemed impressive, anyone can download a blank SF-86 from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s public-facing website.
Once Victim #1 arrived in L.A. she “quickly realized she was not doing any of the work that was promised to her,” says the complaint.
“Major convinced her that his identity needed to be protected and thus, he could not use his credit card, obtain new credit cards, pay for hotels, nor pay for other expenses using his name,” it says.
Victim #1 proceeded to run up a tab of roughly $17,000 paying for Major’s swanky lifestyle, spending her money on his meals, hotel rooms, Ubers, alcohol, and cannabis, says the FBI, which verified Victim #1’s story via bank statements. Although she ran up her cards to the limit and emptied her savings account, Victim #1 “never received a single paycheck from Major,” according to the complaint.
A month went by, and Victim #1 “realized that Major did not have a legitimate business,” it goes on. “She learned from two of Major’s roommates that he had taken money from them as investments for his company and that they also believed he had defrauded them.”
In October 2020, Victim #1 cut off all communication with Major, after which he “freaked out, according to the FBI. Major subsequently started calling the woman with violent threats anywhere from 700 to 1,000 times each day, she told agents. He also bombarded her with emails and direct messages on Instagram, forcing her to block him on all platforms.
The frightening missives kept coming, and in January 2021, Victim #1 reported the threatening behavior to her local police in Upstate New York. But the cops said they couldn’t do anything about it, since the activity had taken place in California.
“For the next year, Victim #1 reported that Major continued to send [her] serious threatening messages and emails about killing her and her family members using different accounts that [she] hadn’t blocked,” states the complaint.
“I will kill your family one by one,” Major allegedly wrote to Victim #1 from a pseudonymous email address, going on to threaten the woman’s parents and brothers. “And then i [sic] will have a field day embarrassing your whore parents next week. Lol this is what you get for blocking me. Cunt. Wait till i target john and charlie hahaha.. bye.”
Another one read: “I will kill you and mutilate your siblings for years. It’s only a matter of time the way you are acting. Please report me ASAP it will help you at least a little.”
A third said, “[I]f youob [sic] dont think i would torture your fam for fun hahahahahahaha youre not even thinking right. You better relax whore.”
In one of numerous emails to Victim #1’s father, Major allegedly wrote, “Stop hurting me or someone will get hurt. Realize that. I could legally follow you and your lying daughter wherever—if I can’t, my company can.”
Partway through 2021, a seemingly contrite Major suddenly told Victim #1 that he wanted to reimburse her. Since Victim #1’s dad worked at the same hospital as Major’s mom, Major said his mother would cut her father a $25,000 check.
But the check bounced, and Major’s mom was arrested and charged criminally in April 2021. She was ordered to pay $100 a month to Victim #1 for the next five years.
Major’s mom, who is not identified by name in the complaint, did not respond to The Daily Beast’s interview request on Wednesday.
Last month, Major emailed Victim #1’s dad and said he wanted to give his daughter a $100,000 check to “make things right,” according to the complaint. On July 6, Major messaged the father, “Get your daughter to call me and we are done. Don’t and we will have your life upside down in a week or less. Bet against me lol. I already fucked your daughter enough boy I’ll fuck you too.”
Meanwhile, Kiernan allegedly ensnared his second victim—from whom the feds say he relieved of some $111,000—in January 2022 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
According to the filing, Victim #2 befriended Major before they eventually became romantic partners.
He would “become very paranoid” early in their relationship, the complaint states, and told Victim #2 that he was involved with multiple “agencies” and “counter-espionage projects” related to Russia and China.
“Major would only use cash to pay for his expenses and after several dates he began to ask Victim #2 to cover his expenses,” the complaint explains. “He claimed that she would be reimbursed generously for doing something good for national security.”
Soon the girlfriend was paying for Major’s meals, hotel costs, airfare, and other expenses. Authorities say Major initially reimbursed her through a friend named “Trent Valentino” via PayPal, but those repayments “quickly stopped” and the majority of the funds went to bankrolling Major’s lifestyle.
When Victim #2 later ran out of money, Major allegedly pressed her to ask her parents for more and goaded her into opening two new checking accounts and applying for two new credit cards, including an American Express.
While Victim #2 said she was distressed by Major’s orders, she continued to obey him because he warned that federal “agencies” would pursue her, according to the complaint.
As he allegedly did with Victim #1, Victim #2 told the feds that Major claimed to be a CIA operative working with the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. She claimed Major also brought her to meetings that ended up being no-shows. Beforehand, he’d instructed her to introduce herself as a colleague, assistant, or client relations manager for EyesOnly.
Major is also accused of taking nude and sexual photos and videos of Victim #2 without her knowledge or consent, and posting them on Instagram.
Victim #2 ultimately realized she’d been conned after Major instructed her to reach out to Victim #1, who he described as his “ex-girlfriend” and “the love of his life,” in June 2022, the complaint alleges. Major told her he wanted closure from Victim #1 and asked her to arrange a meeting with him and Victim #2, it says.
On June 22, Victim #2 contacted Victim #1 on Instagram. The first victim informed the second she refused to connect with Major but shared her experience of “fraud, lack of reimbursement for all the expenses, and the threats,” the complaint states.
Victim #2 was staying at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills from June 8 to June 18, but was still being charged for the room after she left, so on June 23, her father called the hotel and canceled the room. Major had to be “forcibly removed from the hotel,” according to the complaint.
Soon after, Major allegedly began to inundate her with threatening messages and phone calls, blaming her for getting him kicked out of the swanky property.
“You’ve drank too much of [Victim #1’s] Kool-Aide [sic],” Major wrote, the complaint says. “For that expect to suffer life-long consequences along side [sic] her until you guys get over yourselves…” His rant continued, “I will fucking find you fuckers and I will fucking hold you accountable by whatever means necessary.”
In early July, Kiernan posted photos of a Glock handgun box and a Glock handgun with an ejected magazine on his Instagram story, according to the complaint.
“Victim #2 said that she has been in fear for her life ever since she left Major in Los Angeles,” it explains. “She had to move back in with her parents, who have increased security measures to protect Victim #2.”
On July 10, Major trained his sights back on Victim # 1, according to the FBI. She received an email from “email@example.com,” with the subject line, “I 100% WILL SCALP YOUR FATHER ALIVE,” the complaint states.
“Please realize I am not trying to sound scary,” the message allegedly said. “I’m just mad I can’t get my hands on you sooner for the sake of the success of it anyway. When I do though, boy, are you guys gonna suffer all the way to hell. Have fun working 36 jobs the rest of your life so you can pretend you’re happy with your basic fucking boring ass life. Fuck you slut. Best, Kiernan.”
Victim #1 told investigators that nearly two years of constant harassment and psychological abuse made her feel scared, angry, and “numb,” according to the complaint. The idea that Major had been able to acquire a gun made her “extremely concerned” for her own safety, as well as her family’s, which caused her “additional emotional distress,” the complaint states. “She believes Major is capable of causing her harm or death. Additionally, she has filed and was granted a restraining order against Major.”
In late June, the FBI, with an assist from the Beverly Hills Police Department, obtained a search warrant to track Major’s iPhone. They located his device around L.A. until July 15, when Major’s phone began pinging off a tower in Ames, Iowa, according to the complaint.
Major is now charged with one federal count of stalking, a felony.
In a detention request filed July 25 and unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors argued for keeping Major locked up pending trial, saying he is a danger to the community and a flight risk. Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Rodriguez, who is prosecuting the case, did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Major is due back in court Aug. 1.