Derek Robert Hamm, 38, regaled potential investors with claims of being a successful oilman, the nephew of a billionaire oil tycoon and of being a decorated Special Operations Forces war hero from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also purportedly claimed to own oil wells and have been awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for actions while deployed in the Middle East.
But none of that was true, according to a Jan. 20 press release from the Eastern District of Texas District Attorney’s Office.
Instead, Hamm was a failing oil businessman whose first company, Oilfield Goods and Services, had been shut down for tax reasons, court documents show. His second company, Continental Instruments, had seen its charter revoked by the state of Texas in 2018.
Hamm, according to court records, had also been successfully sued by his so-called “billionaire oil tycoon uncle,” Harold Hamm, for not only falsely claimed familial relation but for marketing himself as a high-ranking part of Continental Resources Incorporated, an American petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company.
The 33-count indictment against Hamm also alleges that in addition to these claims of success and power in the oil industry, Hamm lied about being a war hero in order to solidify investors’ confidence in him.
While Hamm did in fact enlist in the Indiana National Guard in 2001 — and did deploy to Iraq with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry, between 2003 and 2004, court documents show — he was not the special operations war hero he allegedly portrayed himself to be.
According to court documents, the guardsman allegedly claimed that he was a 2003 West Point Graduate who had spent 10 years in the Army serving multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. Prosecutors say he told people that he was a sergeant — despite having attended the service academy — with 1st Battalion, 5th Group, Delta Company.
Court documents allege that Hamm also claimed having received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart in addition to the Distinguished Service Cross. Hamm’s actual service record, according to the indictment, shows that he had instead received the non-valor related awards of the Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Army Service Ribbon and the Global War on Terror Service Medal. He had also been discharged from the Oklahoma National Guard in 2007 after transferring following deployment.
Hamm also allegedly made claims that he was a “master Airborne soldier with 258 combat jumps,” according to court documents.
Through these claims, Hamm was allegedly able to create an extensive network that led him to investors that he convinced to fund plans relating to the oil and gas drilling industry.
Instead, the indictment shows, Hamm used the nearly $1.7 million in defrauded funds on expensive personal gifts, including nearly $500,000 on jewelry and vehicles for himself and his family.
For these claims and the benefits that stemmed from them, Hamm was charged with 31 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and using a fraudulent military discharge certificate, after falsifying a DD214 to reflect service in the Special Operations field.
Those charges also included violating the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which makes it illegal to fraudulently wear medals, embellish ranks or service records as they relate to combat, or to make false claims of service in order to obtain money, property, employment or other tangible benefits.
In addition to his alleged fraud scheme, Hamm was additionally indicted on two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, after he was convicted in 2020 for theft of property in Smith County, making him a felon and therefore prohibited by federal law from owning or possessing ammunition or firearms, according to the press release.
Hamm was also prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition after a 2005 conviction for assaulting a family member.
For the 33 charges against him, Hamm faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Austin Wells and Ryan Locker.
It’s still under investigation by the FBI Tyler Field Office, Tyler Police Department, the VA’s Office of Inspector General and multiple other law enforcement agencies across Arizona and Texas.
The FBI is asking that if you or someone you know has been a victim of Hamm, contact them at 903-594-3503. He is also known as D. Wayne Hamm II, Wayne Hamm, D. Wayne H., DW Hamm, and RD Hamm, according to the press release.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.