Police: ‘Sweetheart Swindler’ may have more victims

Crime Tracker

Police say the so-called “Sweetheart Swindler” changes his identity, meets women online, convinces them they’re in love, and then steals their life-savings.

The suspect was arrested in Franklin on Tuesday night — and police say you or someone you know could be a victim of his online dating games.

“The suspect had changed his name legally five times over the past two and a half years,” Cpl. Michele Pihera with the Gwinnett County Police Department in Georgia told News 2.

Right now, police believe his name is John Martin Hill, 35, from Gwinnett County.

“There’s no telling how many victims are out there,” Pihera said.

The victim who blew his cover says she met him on Match.com. 

“He told her that he was a millionaire,” Pihera explained, “During their short romance, he convinced her that not only were they in love and wanted to get married but he also wanted to buy a house together.”

After knowing each other about one week, police say the sweetheart smile swindled the woman’s savings. 

“The man had convinced her during this househunting process to give her more than $80k, to use not only toward the purchase of the home but to also furnish their home,” Pihera said.

When the woman reported him to police, they discovered a similar alias and others under investigation at eight different police departments across the country including Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.

“We’ve had a few other people come forward that (say) either they’re in a current relationship with Mr. Hill or they know someone who has been in a relationship with him,” Pihera said.

After receiving a tip Tuesday, police arrested Hill at the Coolsprings Marriot Hotel in Franklin.

News 2 spoke with two women who work and live down the street.

“I know plenty of people who have gotten married on Match.com and other dating sites,” said Katie Roy, “To see that extreme of people taking advantage and doing the wrong thing, it’s just sad, and frightening.”

“A friend of mine is actually using those sites, and the people that she’s met, it’s really really scary,” Jane Richie said. 

“I just really think you’ve got to watch your back,” added Roy.

The “Sweetheart Swindler” Suspect is in the Williamson County jail on a theft by deception warrant and will be extradited back to Gwinnett County. 

Investigators say it is “highly likely” he has other victims, even here in Tennessee. They are asking anyone who recognized him to contact detectives at 770-513-5300.

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