A 70-year-old man dubbed the “Worst Boyfriend on the Upper East Side” scammed at least five Manhattan women out of over $1.8 million, prosecutors claimed Monday.
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Nelson Counne was arraigned on charges of fraud and grand larceny for reportedly romancing lonely women on dating websites, telling them he was a wealthy investor and art collector, according to the New York Post.
70-Year-Old Dubbed “Worst Boyfriend On The Upper East Side” Indicted On Fraud, Grand Larceny Charges
After several dates, he would then convince the woman into making large investments in fake companies.
“In the end, almost all of Counne’s representations proved to be false,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Kofi Sansculotte said in court.
Sansculotte – the head of the office’s Financial Frauds Bureau – added: “He was not independently wealthy and the only funds into his accounts were from confirmed and suspected victims of his romance scams.”
Counne lied about having homes in the South of France and London, but appeared to have never travelled abroad and didn’t even own a passport, the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors have accused Nelson Counne of scamming over $1.8 million from multiple women he met on dating apps, resulting in his indictment on multiple charges.#NelsonCounneScam#NelsonCounne#RomanceScam#NewYorkhttps://t.co/vDiru7SONO
— Its Wikipedia (@its_wikipedia) March 14, 2023
“Further, the money put into his accounts by the victims were never used for any investments but were instead used to perpetuate the illusion of his wealth to new victims and to repay previous victims who had detected his fraud,” Sansculotte said.
Alleged Romance Scammer Lied To Victims With Fake Investment Opportunities After Starting Relationships
The Post reports Counne allegedly used the phony alias of Nelson or Justin Roth, and would typically start pitching the fake investment opportunities shorty after starting a new relationship.
Counne reportedly told his victims the investment opportunities were for the Alibaba Group – which he falsely claimed he had access to – as well as a fake start-up company he said he co-owned with a former Google executive, according to prosecutors.
After he would bilk the woman into making initial investments, prosecutors say he would then go back to the well for more, while telling them the money would go to staffer salaries and expenses.
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) March 14, 2023
“Worst Boyfriend On The UES” Charged With Similar Crime Last Year, Lawyer Defends Him As “Elderly Man”
A May 2022 piece by the New Yorker magazine actually dubbed Counne the “Worst Boyfriend on the Upper East Side” due to his reported romance scams.
Counne is hardly new to romance scamming, and was charged last year for conning a Connecticut woman out of $500,000, according to the Greenwich Time.
It remains unclear if or how that case was resolved.
Meanwhile, Counne’s attorney Dannielle Von Lehman attempted to characterize Counne as “an elderly man” who has always shown up for prior court appearances in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday.
“Mr. Counne [is] an elderly man,” Von Lehman said. “He’s 70 years old. He has lived in the same address on 82nd Street for the past 25 years. He has a prior criminal history but he has zero failures to appear and throughout the entire time.”
NEW: We announced the indictment of Nelson Counne for stealing more than $1.8M from five women through a series of romance & investment scams. Read more here: https://t.co/j125hpAEXT
— Alvin Bragg (@ManhattanDA) March 13, 2023
Criminal Record Dates Back To 2007, Scammer Held On $150K Cash Bail Or $750K Bond
His criminal record dates back to 2007, however no further details on his history were provided.
Judge Gregory Carro ordered Counne held on $150,000 cash bail or a bond of up to $750,000, with his next court appearance scheduled for May 3.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that scamming has been Counne’s sole source of income for the past eight years.
“He allegedly fed lie after lie to women he falsely claimed to have a romantic interest in, enticing them with investment opportunities that never existed while using their funds to repay past victims, lure in new ones, and fund his lifestyle,” the statement said.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, call the District Attorney’s Office at 212-335-8900.