Paul S. Krueger was homeless, but not to the women he met on MillionaireMatch.com.
They came from all over the country and ranged in age from their 20s to their 50s. He told them stories about being a Grammy-nominated producer who had worked with Quincy Jones, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Michael Jackson before leaving the business to take up investing.
They bought his tales - and agreed to buy in on his investment enterprise, sending him a total of $102,000.
Krueger responded, authorities now allege, by going on a high-roller's Atlantic City spending spree that ended with his fraud arrest as he lingered over a soda at Harrah's casino Wednesday afternoon.
He had gambled away the money and never had a real music career, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. Krueger currently awaits extradition from Atlantic City to Pennsylvania, where he has prior convictions for theft and indecent exposure, a bit of background he neglected to mention, according to two of the women he exploited.
"Homeless with a laptop gives you tremendous access to the outside world," Ferman said.
The bald, pudgy homeless man, 50, connected with women across the country including a Dallas jewelry designer and a 29-year-old singer and swimsuit model in Detroit, authorities said.
His 13 alleged victims include eight women he met through MillionaireMatch.com, and five people introduced to him by one of those women.
The site claims it "makes it easy for the millionaires, whose busy lifestyle leaves little time to meet people conventionally," and defines a millionaire as "anyone who earns $150,000 and above annually." A company official conceded users have to be largely self-policing.
"We do tell all of our members on all of our sites that you have to take precautions when you're on the Internet and looking at people that you're going to meet," said Steve Kasper, vice president of marketing for Successfulmatch.com, the parent company of MillionaireMatch.com. Both are based in Toronto.
Two of the victims, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Krueger had frequently dropped high-end music industry names as they corresponded. Via telephone, he claimed that he was calling from Scotland, where he was working with Jackson, court records said - though authorities later found Krueger has no passport.
"He did have a good story," said one victim, a sales manager in Costa Mesa, Calif., who court records show sent him $10,000. She said she got $900 back.
The California woman said he mixed in down-to-earth details about his ex-wife in Souderton, Montgomery County, their teenage daughter, and some unsuccessful previous investments in a way that made him sound genuine. He actually had many of the "investment" checks mailed to his ex-wife's address, according to court records.
But she and another woman in Scottsdale, Ariz., said Krueger offered intricate, sometimes bewildering, explanations for his investments.
"I never understood completely what he was investing in," the Arizona woman said.
It supposedly involved group investment in stock options, they said. Court records allege it was talked up as a CD and DVD manufacturing plan that the "investors" only got vague promises about.
"I knew better, too, because I do have people that I use for my investments," the California woman said. "I don't know what made me decide. Sometimes you take a leap of faith, and it's not always going to be a good thing."
She said a trip to Atlantic City with Krueger this spring revealed he had a sheaf of casino VIP accounts. Ferman said the homeless man had been so successful grifting to fuel his casino habit that "he would stay in comped rooms, he would eat comped food" but otherwise lived on the streets. "He lived the high life on funds from other people," Ferman said.
Souderton police began tracking Krueger last fall after one of the MillionaireMatch.com women complained to federal Internet crime authorities about her supposed investment. This week, a township detective tracked Krueger down through his Harrah's frequent-gamer card. When he tried using it to get a lunch comped, Harrah's staff alerted authorities, and New Jersey police arrested him.
When Krueger is back in Montgomery County, he will face felony fraud, theft and other charges.
The California woman said she's willing to be a witness in the court case, but the experience has not made her leery of online dating.
"You have to be careful whereever you go," said the woman, who is in her 30s. "You could get scammed meeting someone at a bar. It doesn't matter. You just have to do your due diligence, and I didn't."