NL·CBC Investigates

Thief wanted across Canada lands in St. John's, accused of targeting women on Plenty of Fish

A man with a long list of fraud, theft and mischief charges across Canada has made his way to St. John's, after his ex-fiancée says he robbed her.

Donald John Cameron denies having criminal record, says allegations are false

Donald John Cameron, who has allegedly also used the alias Donald Joseph Cameron, moved to St. John's after an Ontario woman alleged he stole more than $15,000 in cash and belongings. (Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers, Don Cameron/Facebook)

Mary-Lee MacInnis thought she had met her dream man.

He bought her flowers for no reason. He held her hand. He made her feel special.

But early last month, the dream came to an abrupt end.

MacInnis says her perfect boyfriend disappeared, along with more than $15,000 in cash and jewelry from her home in Sudbury, Ont.

Now, she wants women to be warned: Donald John Cameron is a career criminal who targets women on Plenty of Fish.

"If he has his back up against a wall, he will do anything to get out of it," she told CBC News.

But Cameron says MacInnis's allegations against him are false.

He says he has never been convicted of a crime and stressed that he plans to sue CBC News for "slander, defamation of character, and anything else my lawyer can bring against you."

He declined to identify his lawyer.

Mary-Lee MacInnis, a nurse in Sudbury, Ont., fell in love with Donald Cameron quickly — only to find out he had a long criminal record. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

Despite his denials, a CBC News investigation found dozens of charges by calling courthouses around the country, and supplying Cameron's first, middle, and last names, along with his date of birth. His full criminal record is not known.

Cameron has either been charged with crimes or convicted in at least nine cities across Canada.

He's been charged with fraud, identity theft, assault, criminal harassment and numerous counts of theft under $5,000.

Cameron has been convicted in at least four cities in Ontario — London, Kingston, North Bay and Oshawa — and has gone on the lam on at least five occasions.

There are currently warrants for his arrest in Campbell River and Kelowna in B.C., Charlottetown, and Bridgewater and Halifax in Nova Scotia.

MacInnis says she has reported him to police in Sudbury, and at least one of her missing items appears to have turned up in St. John's.

Camera sold in St. John's

Utsab Basu thought something was strange when the man he was haggling with kept accepting any price.

The 20-year-old international student at Memorial University of Newfoundland had seen a posting in a Facebook group for a Canon Rebel T1i 500D camera. He sent a message to the seller, Don Cameron.

Utsab Basu, an international student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, bought a camera from a man he identified as the same Donald Cameron whose picture is on the Charlottetown police and Kelowna, B.C., Crime Stoppers websites. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

At the same time, MacInnis was beginning to piece together things missing from her home as she searched for Cameron online. She found his Plenty of Fish profile active in St. John's and began sharing photos of him in local buy-and-sell groups.

Basu saw her post and recognized Cameron as being the same man he purchased a camera from the day before. He also identified Cameron as the seller when CBC News showed him a photo of his wanted poster from the Crime Stoppers website in Kelowna.

"I felt guilt because I thought I supported something bad," Basu said.

He contacted MacInnis and offered to return the camera, but she told him to keep it. He then phoned the police in St. John's and gave a statement.

MacInnis provided CBC News with the serial number on the warranty for the camera she reported stolen. It matches the 10-digit number on the camera in Basu's possession.

On the left, a camera purchased by an international student in St. John's has the same serial number as shown on a warranty at Mary-Lee MacInnis's home in Sudbury. (CBC (left), submitted by Mary-Lee MacInnis)

Uses dating sites, alleged victims say

In 2013, Cameron headed to Nova Scotia, where he was accused of stealing from three women.

CBC News tracked down one of them.

"He was on Plenty of Fish and incredibly was getting dates with fairly nice women," said Lorna Mooney, who briefly rented a room in her house to Cameron.

"When he had opportunity, when they would go to the bathroom or something, he would go into the purse and write down the credit card number."

I Googled him and nothing came up.- Mary-Lee MacInnis

Mooney filed a criminal complaint against Cameron, alleging he used her debit card without permission and repaid her with a stolen credit card.

She identified the man who rented her room as the same Donald Cameron in the Crime Stoppers photo from Kelowna, as well as the profile picture he used on Facebook when selling a camera to Basu.

Cameron was ordered to stay away from Mooney, and was charged with stealing from two other women before skipping town.

Between 2014 and 2016, Cameron picked up convictions in Oshawa, North Bay and Kingston.

In Oshawa, he stole a vehicle from a woman and damaged her house, and defrauded another woman out of a vehicle. He was convicted and sentenced to four months in jail.

Cameron was in Sudbury in October 2016 and met up with MacInnis, with whom he first chatted two years earlier on Plenty of Fish.

She had no idea of his criminal background, despite doing her research before dating him.

"I Googled him and nothing came up," MacInnis said.

"I went through pages and pages of the Google search and nothing came up."

She says he used a different middle name, Joseph, instead of John.

Relationship ends, belongings disappear

Within a year, they were engaged to be married. MacInnis, a nurse and student, was smitten.

"Mr. Cameron was perfect," she said. "He would do things for me that, well, a girl always wants a guy to do for her."

But there were red flags.

Donald Cameron has a checkered past, including several charges of fraud and motor vehicle theft, in several Canadian cities. (Don Cameron/Facebook)

Cameron would often take her car without asking, she said. She felt he didn't respect her children and wanted them out of the house.

In August, MacInnis sided with her children for good, calling off the wedding and ending the relationship.

After the breakup, she let Cameron stay in a spare bedroom until he could find another place to live.

On Sept. 7, MacInnis says Cameron stole her credit cards, $1,000 in cash from her safe, her camera and more than $10,000 in jewelry.

According to Sudbury police, charges have not yet been laid against Cameron in their city and they have not issued a warrant for his arrest. No charges have been laid in Newfoundland and Labrador, either.

Cameron denies all

In a voicemail message to CBC News on Wednesday, Cameron denied all allegations of impropriety.

"If this story does air tomorrow morning you as a person, individual, and your station will be charged with slander, defamation of character, and anything else my lawyer can bring against you," Cameron said.

"These allegations are very false and they stem from her being in a financial crunch and claiming these allegations to claim the insurance money."

Donald John Cameron has denied all allegations by Mary-Lee MacInnis in Sudbury, Ont., and police in five other places. (Submitted by Mary-Lee MacInnis)

In a followup telephone conversation, Cameron repeatedly threatened to sue.

When asked about the outstanding warrants in five towns and cities, he denied all wrongdoing and said the charges were nothing but false allegations.

When asked how MacInnis's camera ended up in St. John's, Cameron steered the conversation back to her finances.

Cameron then denied ever being convicted of a crime.

When told court documents from across Canada suggested otherwise, he declined to answer and changed the subject.

A warning to women everywhere

MacInnis says she believes Cameron was planning his exit and arranging dates before he even landed in St. John's.

She has spoken with eight St. John's women who said they went on dates with Cameron through Plenty of Fish. The earliest one was the morning of Sept. 8.

It is unclear if he is still in the city or if he has moved elsewhere.

While making Cameron's name known is her goal, MacInnis worries what he will do when he is under pressure.

"As well as being wonderfully kind and generous with his time, he was equally vicious and vindictive when it struck him," she said.

"All the women out there — beware who you are meeting."