289: Scott Payne – Undercover White Supremacist

In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, retired agent Scott Payne reviews his undercover role in the investigation that resulted in averting a mass shooting at a synagogue by a copy-cat white supremacist who said he wanted to do something similar to the June 17, 2015 massacre of church attendees in Charleston, SC, only bigger.

Fortunately, the person he asked to get him a gun was undercover agent Scott Payne. The subject, Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment.

Scott served in the FBI for nearly 23 years. During his career, he was assigned to the New York Field Office, the San Antonio Field Office/McAllen Resident Agency, and the Knoxville Field Offices. As an agent, Scott led investigations targeting Drug Trafficking Organizations, Special Interest Alien Smuggling Organizations, Gangs, Violent Crime, Criminal Enterprises, Public Corruption, and Domestic Terrorism.

Throughout his FBI career, Scott was the primary undercover agent in numerous long-term undercover operations.

These undercover operations varied in investigations, to include but not limited to violent motorcycle gangs, public corruption, murder for hire, drug trafficking organizations, and domestic terrorist groups with international ties.

Scott was also an FBI SWAT Team Operator for over 7 years, participating in numerous arrests of violent criminals and execution of search warrants.

As an instructor in firearms/tactics/undercover throughout his FBI career, he has trained thousands of state and local law enforcement officers throughout the United States in various certification schools.

Even in retirement, Scott continues to travel and teach undercover and tactical schools to law enforcement. He is also pursuing a career in the film/tv business. His memoir, working title, Pale Horse: How I Became The Undercover Nazi, will be published in the spring of 2024.

Special Agent (Retired)

Scott Payne

09/1998 – 06/2021







“What does a white supremacist look like? I mean, goodness gracious. Do they walk around with a hood on, pulled over their head? No.” —Retired Agent Scott Payne

The following are links to articles about Scott Payne’s remarkable undercover career and his undercover investigation that averted a mass shooting at a synagogue:

RollingStone – 1/30/20222: He Spent 25 Years Infiltrating Nazis, the Klan, and Biker Gangs

The Post & Courier – 2/16/2017: FBI: South Carolina man planned attack ‘in the spirit of Dylann Roof’

ADL – 2/16/2017: Anti-Defamation League Reveals Extremist Background of Alleged Plotter

USAO|SC – 7/11/2018: White Supremacist Sentenced for Federal Gun Charges


New York Times – 1/10/2017: Dylann Roof Is Sentenced to Death in Charleston Church Massacre

Learn more about these types of crimes – Episode 213: Tom O’Connor – Domestic Terrorism, Racially Motivated and Antigovernment Extremists

Listen here to other FBI Retired Case File Review episodes featuring undercover agents.

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell
Mug shot of Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell.
Scott Payne didn’t have to “dress up” for his undercover roles. He had tattoos and earrings before he joined the FBI.
Scott used his skills as a musician in many of his undercover roles.

















Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

1 Comment

  1. Shirley SearlMay 31, 2023

    Awesome interview with Scott.


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