We have an update to a story we told you about back last year where a Tyler man was indicted on federal charges that he pretended to be a military war hero to scam money out of investors.

Derek Hamm, 39, pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud, money laundering, violating the Stolen Valor Act, using a fraudulent military discharge certificate and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

First, What Is Stolen Valor?

Military medals and what they mean
Kelsie Taylor // Shutterstock

The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 makes it illegal to fraudulently wear medals, embellish rank, or make false claims of military service to obtain money, employment, property, or some other tangible benefit.

Feds Say That Derek Robert Hamm Used Stolen Valor To Defraud Investors

Derek Robert Hamm

According to court documents, Hamm invented a persona of being a wealthy and successful war hero.

Hamm held himself out to be a former member of the Army Special Forces who had served multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries.

He claimed to have been awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Distinguished Service Cross for his service.

Hamm Also Claimed To Be Related To An Oil Tycoon

Blue west Texas pumping unit
Getty Images/Sean Hannon

Hamm also represented that he was related to Harold Hamm, the billionaire oilman in Oklahoma, which he claimed gave him access to financial resources and oil industry expertise.

Through this larger-than-life persona, Hamm created an extensive network of friends who introduced him to potential investors.

Those investors believed Hamm’s claims and invested in what they expected to be worthwhile ventures spearheaded by a trustworthy and capable entrepreneur.

In reality, Derek Hamm was nothing of the sort.

Financial scam

Hamm was not a decorated war hero. He was no oil industry tycoon. He was not related to Harold Hamm. He did not spend investors’ funds on the latest oil industry technology or new oil wells.

Within hours of receiving investors’ funds, Hamm spent their money on himself and his family, including expensive jewelry, vehicles, and vacations to expensive resorts on private charter planes.

All the while, Hamm represented to investors that he had invested their money in successful oil industry projects.

Because of the Hamm war hero persona, the investors trusted Hamm even as their invested funds failed to produce any returns.

Hamm pleaded guilty to multiple charges in Federal Court And Received His Sentence.


Hamm was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison on Thursday (Dec. 7) and according to the the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hamm’s sentence was the largest ever imposed in relation to a fraud scheme involving the Stolen Valor Act.

As part of the plea agreement, Hamm agreed to pay restitution of at least $2.3 million and forfeiture of the proceeds of his criminal conduct, including jewelry, automobiles, and cash proceeds in the amount of $1,675,000.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of Derek Robert Hamm, please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 903-594-3503. Derek Robert Hamm is also known as D. Wayne Hamm II, Wayne Hamm, D. Wayne H., DW Hamm, and RD Hamm.

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