A man who pretended to be an oil tycoon in an elaborate identity theft scheme has been handed down a sentence of four years in prison, the New York Post reports. Using online dating services like eHarmony, Craigslist, Match.com and Seeking Arrangement, John Edward Taylor would deceive women under a variety of aliases, gaining their affections and trust in order to steal sensitive information and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
Taylor tricked upwards of 16 women out of thousands of dollars, nearly sending one young victim into bankruptcy in the process. He used manipulation to gain access to personal finance information, moving funds and opening new accounts in their names; switching to intimidation and blackmail whenever the women caught wind of what was going on. In a series of letters sent to the case’s judge Laura Swain, 9 different women recounted the scams they endured. “Each time we had a question or doubt, he would have another story to cover up the lie,” read one of the letters.
For nearly 7 years between 2009 and 2016, he was able to get away with stealing well over $270,000 from a handful of women whom he would then blackmail with public and professional embarrassment if they tried to pursue legal action.
A few of his former victims made their way to court proceedings to voice their experiences, offering even more insight into the awful lengths he was willing to go to get what he wanted. One noted how skilled he was in his approach, meticulously sticking to his fake identity in order to get close to women he would ultimately steal from. “Don’t let him have any more victims,” she pleaded. Taylor's lawyer offered up her client's mental health as the reason he should avoid jail time, saying a lengthy sentence would "kill him."
He is also is also on the hook for nearly $300,000 in restitution.
Next time an oil tycoon pops up as a match, swipe left.