EVERY so often we hear of some poor woman who has fallen prey to a con artist she met online.
We sit back and smirk, thinking, "That would never happen to me." But Mischele Lewis, a registered nurse who lives in Florence, N.J., is proof that it really could happen to anyone.
Before hooking up with William Allen Jordan - the man she knew as Liam Allen - she'd lived a quiet suburban life, caring for her two children as a single mother. After meeting him, she became enmeshed in a tangled web of lies and intrigue stretching all the way to England.
The man Lewis planned to marry served time there for bigamy, failing to register as a sex offender and other charges, according to a BBC.com report. It also said that Jordan had a 1997 conviction of indecent assault on a girl under age 13.
"You are an inveterate exploiter of vulnerable women," a British judge told Jordan, according to BBC.com.
Jordan, a muscular, mild-mannered man in his late 40s, was arrested again last week in Cherry Hill and now faces charges of sexual assault, theft by deception and impersonating a law-enforcement officer.
"He's just evil," Lewis, 36, told me at a Starbucks in Mount Laurel, where she used to meet him for coffee dates. "He emotionally breaks people. He uses them."
And, she added, "Almost all of his victims were single mothers."
Getting to know you?
Lewis met Jordan on a website called EstablishedMen.com on Feb. 7, 2013.
They met in person several days later at Moorestown Mall, where they sat on a bench and chatted for hours.
He told her that he'd never married and had no children. He said that he worked nights and weekends. Since she worked a night shift herself, Lewis had no reason to doubt him. She was charmed by how easily conversation flowed.
He told her that he was born in Cherry Hill but moved to England as a child. He spoke with a British accent.
"I think we met at 10 o'clock in the morning and I don't think we left each other until 3 o'clock," Lewis recalled. "We talked about everything. Our past, our jobs. He was well-read. Seemingly well-traveled. He told me he spoke 12 languages."
Things progressed slowly. Lewis was going through a divorce and didn't want to rush into anything. Jordan appeared respectful of that.
"We would meet like two times a week or so," she said. "It just seemed to grow exponentially into late spring. It felt right."
Jordan asked lots of questions about her but seldom spoke about himself. When he finally did open up one day, as they sat on a bench outside the Cherry Hill Mall, things suddenly became very strange.
Jordan sighed heavily, Lewis recalled, and began telling her that he had a highly secretive job working for the British government, escorting diplomats, dignitaries and high-level government employees.
Afterward, Lewis wrote a list of questions on her iPad that she wanted answered, and he later went through each of them with her. His answers sounded plausible.
"I didn't completely believe it but I didn't discredit it," she explained. "I wouldn't know. It's not my field. I'm not an expert. . . . I went back to the Internet and tried to find something on him, but I couldn't."
Then, about three months after they'd met, he presented her with a thick application he said she'd need to complete for a security clearance so that he could tell her more about his work - and where he lived.
She smartly declined to fill it out.
But she started getting calls from two men - both had English accents - asking for more information as well as money to help get the "security clearance." Sometimes when she couldn't reach Jordan, she would call one of them to find him.
Love and lies
By then, Jordan and Lewis were intimate. They spent their first night together at the Quality Inn Suites in Westampton.
As the months rolled by, they had some good times, but there were always odd absences and weird excuses for them.
During the Christmas holidays, he brought gifts for her kids and promised to come over Christmas Day, but he didn't show up.
"He would swear up and down that there was nobody else," Lewis said. But by early January, she'd had enough.
Lewis was fed up with Jordan's absences.
And then she found out she was pregnant.
Jordan was not thrilled when he heard the news, she said.
Shortly after Valentine's Day, a year after they'd met, Lewis made a shocking discovery.
After they'd made love, Jordan went to the bathroom and while he was out of sight, Lewis said she peeked into his wallet and saw an immigration card that identified him as William Allen Jordan, not Liam Allen.
Later, she Googled Jordan's name. What she found literally made her sick to her stomach: stories about Jordan's criminal history, multiple wives and at least a dozen kids. There was even a book about him by Mary Turner Thomson, one of his "wives" and mother of two of his children. It was called The Bigamist.
Lewis immediately contacted Thomson and the two of them talked for two hours.
"I've been waiting for this to happen," Thomson told me last week. "I knew from the moment he was released that he would do the same thing again."
Bolstered by her conversations with Thomson and also with Donna Andersen, who runs the Atlantic City-based website LoveFraud.com, Lewis decided to contact the police in Florence, where she lives.
As they investigated, Lewis tried to act as normal as possible with Jordan, even continuing their sexual relationship, she said.
She also told me that she'd had an abortion. She said she didn't want a lifelong link with a man who could do what she believed he had done to her and others.
Last Tuesday, she met Jordan one last time, in the parking lot of a Dollar General in Cherry Hill where she frequently picked him up. He told her that he had to run to a nearby drugstore first, and when he came out, police were waiting.
As of press time, Jordan remained locked up on $60,000 bail, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said. The case will be referred to a grand jury for indictment, he said, adding that Jordan had requested a public defender.
Lewis is hopeful that other women who have been entangled with Jordan will come forward. She's sure there are more.
"There's got to be a primary relationship," said Lewis, pointing to Jordan's odd absences and frequent unavailability on holidays or weekends. "There have to be more victims locally."