A man accused of stealing $80,000 from a woman he met on a dating website was arrested Tuesday in Tennessee.
John Martin Hill, 34, allegedly told the Alpharetta, Georgia, woman he was a millionaire and convinced her they were in love. Within a week of meeting on Match.com, they agreed to marry, according to officials with the Gwinnett County Police Department. The money was was purportedly going toward the purchase of their first home.
Police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said that once the money changed hands, the woman did not hear from him again.
Police released a photo of Hill on Tuesday morning and asked for the public's help to locate him. Before the day was out, he was behind bars in Franklin, Tennessee, Pihera said in a Wednesday news release.
Hill faces a charge of theft by deception in Gwinnett County. Since announcing the charge, Pihera said police have heard from a few other women who said they were in a relationship with Hill or knew another woman who was.
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Police are hoping the Alpharetta woman’s misfortune will be a cautionary tale for others who seek love online.
"When meeting someone online, be very cautious sharing personal information, financial information, or cash with someone in the early stages of a relationship," Pihera said in a statement. "These types of con men are very good at manipulating their victims. They tend to say everything that a woman wants to hear."
According to investigators, the scheme started March 27. Hill and the Alpharetta woman exchanged messages on the dating site and arranged to meet in person later the same day. The proposal came next.
“During their short romance, he convinced her that they were in love and wanted to buy a house together,” Pihera said. “They went house hunting and selected a home they were interested in.”
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The woman thought her $80,000 contribution would help with a down payment on the home and buy the couple some furniture. Police said she didn’t know Hill was already living in an apartment in Duluth, Georgia, with another woman and a child.
Investigators learned Hill has changed his name more than five times in the past three years and is accused of committing similar acts in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. They did not quantify the number of cases connected to Hill.
According to officials with the Franklin Police Department, officers tracked Hill to a Marriott hotel Tuesday night, acting on a tip. When they confronted him, Hill allegedly darted into a hotel conference room and hid under a table. He came out on officer's orders and was arrested.
Hill, who also has a listed address in South Carolina, is being held in the Williamson County Jail in Tennessee in lieu of a $500,000 bond, according to Franklin Police Department officials. He is expected to be extradited to Georgia, officials with the department said.
"By sharing this story, it is our hope that he is not able to victimize any other women using this scam," Pihera said in a statement.
“We are thankful that the victim in our case came forward and reported this crime,” she said. “If any other women have been victimized by Hill, we encourage them to contact their local police department.”