An online dating scam stole $1.8 million from its victims

Watch out for people on dating apps who offer investment opportunities to be genuine.

That’s the message from the New York District Attorney’s Office, which recently filed charges against a lying Lothario who they allege swindled his lovers out of millions.

Nelson Coon, who also goes by the persona “Nelson Roth” or “Justin Roth,” was charged in Manhattan court with bilking five women of more than $1.8 million through a series of affairs and investment scams.

“He allegedly fed lie after lie to women he falsely claimed to be romantically interested in, luring them with investment opportunities that never materialized, while using their funds to repay past victims, lure new ones, and finance his lifestyle.” said the district attorney. Alvin L. Bragg, Jr

Related: The Scam Artist Who Robed Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. “Some of the guys couldn’t pay their car payment.”

Dating with dollars

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

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

The trick worked like this. After gaining the affection and trust of his victims, Coon convinced many of them to invest with him. He never shared any details about his business, insisting that the investments were in a “gray zone between legal and illegal” and that he had access to inside information.

Some of his bogus investments included Alibaba and a startup allegedly run by a former Google executive that would provide an online lottery that potential college students could pay for a chance to win tuition.

“Most of the victims were initially hesitant, but Kuhn persisted until each agreed to contribute,” the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Ponzi scheme

The DA alleges that Kuhn ran a classic Ponzi scheme, using money from one of his tokens to pay another. This allowed him to appear rich to new victims and to repay previous victims who suspected his fraud.

Kaun is now charged with first-degree fraud, second-degree grand larceny and third-degree grand larceny.

Such romantic scams are not uncommon. In 2021, nearly 24,000 victims reported losing nearly $1 billion to dating scams, according to the FBI.

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