Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Timothy Gallagher, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Newark Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, a/k/a “Jay Taylor,” a/k/a “Josie Reeser,” was charged in a five-count indictment today. TAYLOR had previously been charged by complaint, and first appeared in this district on December 21, 2016. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain. TAYLOR is expected to be arraigned later this week before Judge Swain.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “John Edward Taylor allegedly trolled dating websites to find unsuspecting women for his ‘romance’ scam, designed to steal their money. While masquerading as a millionaire businessman with romantic and professional interest in his victims, Taylor was in reality an alleged con artist. When confronted by some of his victims for looting their bank accounts, Taylor took his insidious crime another step further, allegedly threatening to release sexually explicit photos of them.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Timothy Gallagher said: “Today’s charges illustrate the FBI’s commitment to combating the growing threat of online dating scams and financial fraud. Our job is to protect victims and ensure those who commit these egregious crimes are held accountable.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint and Indictment filed in federal court:
JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, a/k/a “Jay Taylor,” a/k/a “Josie Reeser,” stole, or attempted to steal, money, credit, and personal information from more than a dozen women (the “Victims”) in cities across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.
TAYLOR contacted Victims using online matchmaking and networking websites, such as Match.com, eHarmony, Craigslist, and Seeking Arrangement. TAYLOR typically introduced himself as “Jay” and often falsely described himself as a wealthy businessman with oil and land interests in North Dakota. To some Victims, TAYLOR feigned interest in hiring the Victims to work on a new business TAYLOR purported to be creating. To other Victims, TAYLOR expressed an interest in a romantic and personal relationship. To most Victims, TAYLOR purported to be interested in both a personal and a professional relationship.
Using a variety of false pretenses, TAYLOR obtained the Victims’ personal identifying information, often including birthdates, addresses, and bank and credit account numbers. TAYLOR used the Victims’ personal identifying information to purchase goods, transfer funds, and open new accounts – all without authorization. In certain circumstances, TAYLOR opened accounts without the Victims’ knowledge. In other circumstances, TAYLOR opened accounts that he assured Victims were business accounts, but were, in fact, personal accounts in the Victims’ names, over which TAYLOR maintained exclusive control.
Often within a matter of months, Victims would discover thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges and transfers in their existing accounts, receive bills for accounts they had never created, or learn their existing accounts had been closed due to delinquency.
Independent of each other, multiple Victims confronted TAYLOR about his activities. To some, TAYLOR responded with insults. To others, TAYLOR responded with promises to repay the losses – and on at least one occasion attempted to repay one Victim with funds unlawfully obtained from another Victim. On multiple occasions, TAYLOR threatened to transmit sexually explicit images of the Victims – which he had obtained as part of his purported romantic relationships with them – to the Victims’ employers if the Victims tried to collect their debts.
TAYLOR’s fraud and attempted fraud totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
TAYLOR, 47, has been charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison; and two counts of threatening communications, each of which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentences for the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the FBI for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.
The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Rebold and Andrew Thomas are in charge of the case.
The charges contained in the Complaint and Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and Indictment and the descriptions of the Complaint and Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.