Fake Romeo charmed more than 100 women with promises of romance, then scammed them

Patrick Giblin, who twice escaped from federal custody, 'went after the lonely, and broken hearted,' Kathy Waters said.

ByFaith Karimi, CNN, CNNWire
Saturday, December 10, 2022
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Patrick Giblin was like the American version of the "Tinder Swindler" -- but without the private jets, CNN reported.

He wooed women with stories about his respectable family -- his father was a judge, he said -- and beachfront property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he said he worked in the casino industry, according to a federal criminal complaint. He told them was ready to settle down and was more interested in a woman's inner beauty than her outward appearance.

He vowed that distance was not an issue because he had access to discount flights and was even ready to move to a woman's city to further their romance.

But federal officials say those were all lies, concocted to swindle women looking for love through dating sites. A review of plea agreements and federal complaints show that Giblin conned at least 100 women over two decades, coaxing them out of more than $250,000 with false promises followed by requests for short-term loans that were never repaid.

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"He preyed on vulnerabilities, promising to end the loneliness of a woman who had recently ended a long-term relationship or soothing someone who recently suffered the death of a loved one," said a report by federal prosecutors in New Jersey. "Giblin would convince these women that he was willing to relocate to their locales but needed money wired to do so."

Despite convictions and serving prison time, he continued to defraud women, even after he was caught and twice escaped from federal custody.

Prosecutors say Giblin even scammed women from prison while he was serving time on similar charges, and after he became a fugitive for failing to show up at a halfway house in Newark, New Jersey.

But his schemes may finally be over. On Wednesday a federal judge sentenced Giblin to 66 months in prison for escaping from federal custody and one count of wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud women over telephone dating services.

His cons predated Tinder and other dating apps

Giblin's scams date as far back as the early 2000s, authorities said -- back when he was in his thirties, and long before Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps. He's now 58.

On Lavalife, QuestChat and other dating services, Giblin went by "Pat," a seemingly charismatic man who assured women that their weight, height and other physical features were not an issue, according to the federal criminal complaint. The complaint said he created numerous accounts in his name on dating sites in the United States and Canada.

Prosecutors say he'd message women on the sites, tell them he was seeking a long-term relationship with a "real, true, genuine woman," and exchange phone numbers.

Giblin would then build a rapport with the women over long phone conversations before he started asking them for money, court documents said. He gave them various excuses for financial emergencies, including that his car broke down or that he needed funds to free up winnings from a gambling tournament, court documents said.

His scams predated Venmo, Zelle and other payment apps, so he asked the women to wire him cash -- usually several hundred dollars at a time -- through MoneyGram or Western Union. Some of the women didn't know how to use the wire services, but he'd talk them through the process, federal court documents said.

Prosecutors say Giblin targeted vulnerable women, including widows, women with physical disabilities and single mothers -- including at least one who had recently lost a child.

"Giblin went after the lonely, and broken hearted. Figured out their soft spots and attacked those when he didn't get his money," Kathy Waters, executive director of Advocating Against Romance Scammers, told CNN. "The victims are not only abused financially, but emotionally and psychologically as well. He is a master manipulator who has scammed an unknown amount of people, since some never come forward."

Giblin's public defender, Lori Koch, declined to comment when reached by CNN.

He was first arrested in 2005 for scamming a woman in Ohio

Giblin's scams were first exposed after he was charged with one count of extortion in New Jersey for allegedly scamming a woman in Ohio. That was in March 2005.

After his arrest, the FBI said he'd used the same telephone dating services to con women nationwide for five years prior to that, court documents show.

At the time, Giblin admitted that over a five-year period he had victimized more than 80 women, according to a federal report. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 115 months in prison.

But that was just the beginning.

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Waters believes his number of victims is likely much higher because Giblin continued defrauding women on and off until 2021, and some victims of romance scammers are too embarrassed to come forward.

"The amount of romance scam victims Giblin violated in the US over the years is a number we've never seen tied to one scammer," Waters said. "Not reporting the crime is common for those who have been romance scammed. Often times scrutiny goes along with reporting, which leads to shame and embarrassment."

To avoid getting the women mixed up, Giblin kept detailed notes of his activity on the dating services, including names of the victims, their physical descriptions, what they did for a living and the type of man they were looking for, according to the criminal complaint. The FBI interviewed numerous women who disclosed that they'd wired him money.

As part of a plea deal, Giblin admitted that he'd stolen more than $200,000 from women over the years. In April 2007, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to more than nine years in prison.

He was sent to a federal prison in Greenville, Illinois. But his criminal activity didn't stop.

He escaped from federal custody in 2012

In late 2012 federal officials placed Giblin in a residential reentry program in Philadelphia. There, he was given a day pass to find a job in Atlantic City, but he never returned and became a fugitive, according to the criminal complaint.

A few weeks later, federal authorities found him in an Atlantic City hotel, gambling away funds from women he'd scammed from telephone dating services while on the lam, according to court documents. He'd checked into the hotel under an alias, "Michael Patrick."

A federal agent asked Giblin where he got the $711 in his possession and if he'd received money from women, and he responded, "there's one chick I have been f**king around with."

But a search of his hotel room revealed there was more than one woman.

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Investigators recovered a cellphone, money transfer receipts and notebooks containing a treasure trove of information, including physical descriptions, interests and hobbies of women he interacted with on dating sites while he was on the lam. The women were from all over the country, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Carolina, New York and Ohio.

In his notes about one woman, Giblin wrote, "has a savings Account. Home is paid for not a golddigger," federal documents said. He pleaded guilty to escape charges and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In December 2013 he was freed from prison again, this time to start supervised release in New Jersey, federal documents said. As a condition his release, Giblin was to notify his probation officer of any plans to leave the state, but a federal agent later arrested him at a hotel in Colonie, New York.

While in New York, Giblin used dating sites to meet and defraud more than 10 women of between $15,000 and $40,000, court documents said.

Eight years later, he escaped again

Giblin was convicted and sentenced in August 2017 to five years in prison and ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in restitution. But he continued to scam women while incarcerated at federal prisons in Estill, South Carolina, and in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, court records said.

In July 2020, he was approved to be transferred from the prison in Lewisburg to a residential reentry center in Newark. Federal officials say they escorted him onto a plane at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Giblin's itinerary included a layover in Charlotte. He never emerged in Newark.

While on the run, Giblin posted messages on telephone dating services and continued scamming and receiving money from women, federal documents said. Prosecutors say that between 2019 and 2021 he defrauded about a dozen women out of more than $37,000.

He was arrested in March of 2021 in Atlantic City and pleaded guilty in July this year to wire fraud and escaping from federal custody. In addition to his sentence this week of 66 months in prison, Giblin was given three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $23,428.

Waters, the advocate for romance scam victims, said she doesn't think the sentence was harsh enough considering the breadth of Giblin's crimes -- and just gives him time to plan more ways to scam women.

"Unfortunately the counts didn't include every life he caused harm to," she told CNN. "It takes years to heal emotionally, psychologically and financially from these scammers."

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