Online dating scammer steals $1.8 million from victims
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Online dating scammer steals $1.8 million from victims

Watch out for people on dating apps that offer investment opportunities that are too good to be true.

That’s the news from New York City prosecutors who recently filed charges against a lying Lothario who allegedly cheated his lovers out of millions.

Nelson Counne, also known as “Nelson Roth” or “Justin Roth,” has been charged in a Manhattan court with extorting more than $1.8 million from five women through a series of love and investment scams.

“He is said to have fed lies upon lies to women he falsely had a romantic interest in and seduced them with investment opportunities that never existed, while using their money to repay previous victims, attract new ones and his lifestyle.” to fund,” said District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr.

Also see: The scammer who robbed the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. “Some of the guys couldn’t make their car payment.”

Dating for dollars

Counne, 69, met most of his victims through online dating sites, where, according to the indictment, he posed as a wealthy retired art dealer and investor with homes in London, Manhattan and southern France.

In reality, Counne doesn’t own any houses and never travels internationally – he doesn’t even have a passport. His only source of income was the money he stole from his lovers between 2012 and 2021.

The scam worked like this: after Counne gained the affection and trust of his victims, he convinced many of them to invest with him. He never gave details about his dealings, claiming the investments fell in a “grey area between legal and illegal” and that he had access to inside information.

His bogus investments included Alibaba and a start-up said to be run by a former Google exec that would offer an online lottery that would-be college students could enter for a chance at tuition.

“Most of the victims were initially reluctant, but Counne persevered until everyone agreed to an investment,” according to a press release from the Manhattan Attorney’s Office.

A Ponzi scheme

The prosecutor alleges that Counne ran a classic Ponzi scheme, using money from one of his marks to pay for another. This allowed him to appear wealthy to new victims and to repay previous victims suspected of his fraud.

Counne now faces charges of first degree fraud, second degree grand larceny and third degree grand larceny.

Love scams like this are not uncommon. In 2021, around 24,000 victims reported losing about $1 billion to love scams, according to the FBI.