NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An alleged con artist masqueraded as a millionaire oil man to woo victims and steal their personal information, prosecutors said Tuesday.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, prosecutors emphasized that people should know whom they’re talking to before giving out personal information on a dating site.
John Edward Taylor, who also used Jay Taylor and Josie Reeser, allegedly stole or tried to steal money, credit and personal information from more than a dozen women in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Prosecutors said Taylor contacted victims using online dating and networking sites such as Match.com, eHarmony, Craigslist, and Seeking Arrangement. He introduced himself as “Jay” and claimed to be a millionaire businessman with oil and land interests in North Dakota, prosecutors said.
In some instances, Taylor pretended to be interested in having the victims work on a new business he purported to be developing, while in others, he pretended to want to date them, prosecutors said. To most victims, he sought both a personal and professional relationship, prosecutors said.
Using false pretenses, Taylor got the victims’ personal identifying information – often including dates of birth, addresses, and bank and credit card numbers, prosecutors said.
Taylor allegedly went on to transfer funds, buy items, and open new accounts with the victims’ information, prosecutors alleged. He either opened the accounts without authorization or told the victims they were business accounts – when in fact they were accounts with the victims’ names that he alone controlled, prosecutors said.
Over a period of months, victims would find thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges and transfers in their existing accounts, receive bills for accounts they never opened, or learn that their existing accounts had been closed due to delinquency, prosecutors said.
Multiple victims confronted Taylor, and he responded to some of them with insults, prosecutors said. In other instances, he promised to repay the victims – and at least once tried to do so using funds from another victim, prosecutors said.
Several times, Taylor also threatened to release sexually explicit photos of the victims he had extracted from them to their employers if they tried to collect their debts, prosecutors said.
Taylor’s fraud totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, prosecutors said.
Taylor was charged with one count each of wire fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, and two counts of threatening communications. The most serious charges each carry prison terms of 30 years of Taylor is convicted, prosecutors said.