St. Mary’s man who stole nearly $300K in dating site scams pleads guilty

A St. Mary’s County, Maryland, man pleaded guilty to crimes related to posing as a service member and scamming several women using online dating sites, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to a news release, 39-year-old Eugene Johnson, of Leonardtown, began using dating sites in December 2014 to establish relationships with women under aliases. He would often claim to be a U.S. Marine with a son whose mother had died. Johnson would tell these women that he intended to marry them, buy a house and raise his son and any children they may have together.

He would then tell them he needed money for pressing issues, such as car trouble, debts, legal bills or health problems. He would send text messages from different phone numbers pretending to be other people corroborating his stories.

“Through his use of fictious personas, the defendant’s fraudulent scheme preyed on members of our community who thought they were helping a servicemember with significant financial needs,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “As this case demonstrates, we will continue to hold accountable those who use online forums to defraud victims.”

Johnson would continue to ask for more money until the victim had run out, or they pushed back on his claims.

Courts estimated that Johnson scammed at least $276,361 from his victims. He used this money to pay personal debts and expenses.

Johnson pleaded guilty to mail fraud. He is set to appear in court on Sept. 17, and he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up