Accused romance scammer Mitchell Gross won’t make you feel better about looking for love online.
For singulars who have their doubts about Internet dating, Meet Mitchell Gross, aka fiction author Mitchell Graham.
The feds in Atlanta announced the indictment of the 61-year-old on charges of wire fraud and money laundering after he allegedly duped at least two women he met on a Jewish dating site into investing millions of dollars in a phony investment company.
“This defendant allegedly met women through an online dating service and posed as someone who wanted a committed romantic relationship, but who in fact was interested in luring them into investing their savings with a phony company,” said Atlanta U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a statement.
“The unsuspecting victims transferred millions of dollars into bank accounts controlled by the defendant, who allegedly depleted the funds to pay back previous victims and enrich himself.”
Authorities said Gross, who published novels under the name “Mitchell Graham” met a woman on the dating site in June 2006 and struck up a romance.
Gross told the woman — authorities referred to only as “R.J”— that he was independently wealthy and financially secure and that his wealth dramatically increased as a result of the successful investment of his funds by “Michael Johnson,” supposedly a licensed stock broker employed by a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch known as “The Merrill Company.”
In fact, “Michael Johnson” was an alias used by Gross himself, and “The Merrill Company” did not exist.
R.J. called a phone number provided by Gross and spoke to “Michael Johnson” who in fact was Gross, who was disguising his voice.
The woman ultimately wired approximately $2.99 million to an account she believed belonged to “The Merrill Company,” which was actually controlled by Gross.
As part of the scheme, Gross sent the woman IRS 1099 forms that falsely reported dividend and interest income purportedly earned on her “Merrill Company” investment accounts. Gross also sent phony “Merrill Company” account statements to be delivered to R.J.
Authorities said that Gross used the funds to repay a former girlfriend, who had invested about $1.4 million with “The Merrill Company.”