Conman, 70, accused of defrauding at least FIVE women in Manhattan out of more than $1.8 million
- Nelson Counne, 70, is accused of meeting women in posh Manhattan bars and on dating apps before conning them.
- He would boast that he was a wealthy art collector and investor and lived in a mega-mansion near Central Park.
- Have you or someone you know been targeted by Nelson Counne? Please email [email protected]
A “fraudster” accused of conning at least five Manhattan women out of more than $1.8 million after meeting them on dating sites has appeared in court.
Nelson Counne, 70, was indicted Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court on two counts of grand theft in the second degree, one in the third degree, and fraud.
He told the women he was a wealthy art collector and investor before allegedly tricking them into making serious investments in his fake companies.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the incidents date back to 2012, but Counne was not arrested until March 13 of this year and has denied the charges against him.
Counne was previously exposed as a fraud in a New Yorker piece — branding him “the worst guy on the Upper East Side.”
Judge Gregory Carro ordered Counne, who pleaded not guilty, held on $150,000 cash bail or a maximum of $750,000 bond pending a May 3 court appearance.
The suspect met con women at Our Time, which catered to an older clientele, and then began boasting about his homes in London, Florida and Saint-Tropez, as well as a huge mansion near Central Park (35 East 63rd Street).
He used the aliases Nelson or Justin Roth in his schemes and told the women he claimed he had access to the Alibaba group and a fake start-up Counne said he co-owned with a former Google executive.
He soon began scouting women for investment opportunities in new relationships, and some told the New Yorker that he would even steal their jewelry to give to his new love interest.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Kofi Sansculotte said in court, “Ultimately, almost all of Counne’s allegations were proven false.
“He was not independently wealthy and the funds in his accounts only came from confirmed and alleged victims of his romantic scams.
“Furthermore, the money deposited into his account by his victims was never used for any investment, but was used to perpetuate the illusion of his wealth to new victims and to repay previous victims who discovered his fraud.”
Prosecutors also told the court that Counne had never traveled abroad and did not even have a passport.
He uses dating apps and targets women in luxury hotels and restaurants – including the five-star UES Carlyle and Surrey hotels.
Have you or someone you know been targeted by Nelson Counne?
Please email [email protected]
The victims told The New Yorker that they met him while partying with him at Campagnola, Bemelmans Bar and Orsay Restaurant.
Once the women started making initial investments, she argued, they would have to provide more money for staff costs and salaries.
Counne claimed that his funds were tied up in investments or his accounts were frozen due to US and European investigations into his financial activities.
He promised to repay all victims their initial investment within a few weeks, along with a substantial profit.
Last year, he was also accused of defrauding a Connecticut woman out of $500,000, Greenwich Time reported.
His attorney told Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday that he is an “elderly man” who has always appeared in court when needed.
Dannielle Von Lehman added that his criminal history dates back to 2007, but did not provide details.
In 1987, Counne was charged with the murder of a jeweler, for which he was later acquitted – the alleged crook was shot multiple times in the chest three years later.
Assistant Raymond Castello told the New Yorker that a family member of the jewelry dealer who was killed was “some kind of karma for his past actions.”
The New Yorker article details Counne’s relationships with at least four women dating back to 2000.
All the women say they met him on the Upper East Side, and Counne introduced himself as a “mysterious” man with a lot of money and
Counne found himself fighting a civil lawsuit filed in 2022 accusing him of “owing the plaintiff money for loans.”
It is unclear whether the plaintiff, another woman, is one of the five named in the criminal case. His lawyers are seeking at least $1 million in interest, costs and expenses, as well as damages.
DA Bragg added: “As alleged, Nelson Counne’s only source of income for the past eight years has been the money he defrauded.
“He allegedly fed lie after lie to women he falsely claimed to be romantically interested in, luring them with investment opportunities that never existed, while using their funds to repay previous victims, lure new victims and fund his lifestyle.
“We urge everyone to be cautious when they say there is an investment opportunity that seems too good to be true.
“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, we’re here to help – call us at 212-335-8900.”