Falling in love with this Georgia “millionaire” was an $80,000 mistake, police say.
After connecting over Match.com on March 27, an Alpharetta woman met a man named John Hill for a date the same day, according to police in Gwinnett County. Hill said he was worth millions — and during a whirlwind romance, the pair fell in love.
Within a week, Hill and the woman were engaged to be married, according to police. Hill even convinced the woman to buy a home with him, authorities said, and took her house hunting for properties they could buy together.
That’s how Hill got a hold of more than $80,000 of the woman’s money, according to police. It was meant to be used to buy and furnish their new home. But once the funds were in Hill’s hands, he disappeared and “ceased all contact,” police said.
Police said their investigation has revealed the man lived in nearby Duluth, in an apartment he shares with a woman and a child.
“He also recently purchased a 2014 BMW and painted it black,” police said.
The 35-year-old suspect is named John Martin Hill, but he’s “changed his name over five times in the past two and a half years,” according to police. He’s wanted on felony theft by deception charges in Gwinnett County.
The Alpharetta woman isn’t his only victim, police said: He’s accused of doing the same to other victims across the eastern U.S., including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
Romance scams target thousands across the U.S. every year, and victims are losing more and more money to the scammers behind them — though often the victims never meet the perpetrator in person, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2015, 8,500 romance scams were reported to the federal agency, and the crimes cost their victims about $33 million, the agency said in February.
But by last year, those numbers had risen significantly, with 21,000 reported romance scams in 2018 totaling $143 million in losses, the agency said.
“People who said they were ages 40 to 69 reported losing money to romance scams at the highest rates — more than twice the rate of people in their 20s,” according to the FTC. “At the same time, people 70 and over reported the highest individual median losses at $10,000.”
The median reported loss to romance scams in the country last year was $2,600, the FTC said.
Hill’s location isn’t known, police said.