Canada·Updated

Online Romeo jailed for swindling women

A Toronto-area swindler who used online dating sites to target his victims is heading to a federal penitentiary, CBC News has learned.

Jason Porter gets 30-month federal sentence

A Toronto-area swindler who used online dating sites to target his victims is heading to a federal penitentiary, CBC News has learned. 

Jason Porter, 37, was sentenced to 30 months this week after pleading guilty to 15 criminal charges, including several frauds under $5,000, using credit cards obtained by crime and breaking and entering. Other charges were withdrawn in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Jason Porter, 37, was sentenced to 30 months after pleading guilty to 15 criminal charges, including several frauds under $5,000, using credit cards obtained by crime, and breaking and entering. (Toronto police )

Assistant Crown attorney Catharine Finley described the sentence as "unusual" because the monetary amount of the individual frauds was not excessive. It was Porter’s breach of trust, which Finley called "egregious" in some cases, that resulted in a sentence of more than two years.

Porter, described as handsome, attentive and charming by his victims, posed as a successful businessman as he successively courted three women via online dating sites. He began  real-world relationships with them, moving in temporarily with at least one woman while he ostensibly searched for a new apartment. 

Once trust had been gained, he began defrauding them by stealing credit cards, ransacking their computers for personal information and using their stolen identities to open other accounts.

One of his victims told CBC News she was "very  relieved and very happy" after hearing word of the sentencing 

Sarah, whose identity CBC has agreed to protect, had met Porter in December 2010 on Plenty of Fish, a free Canadian-based online dating site that boasts millions of members. Their romance progressed quickly and seriously, but after three months he disappeared. That's when she discovered she and her father had been defrauded

It turned her world upside down, she said.

"It’s not just the theft — the identity theft — it’s the whole pretending to be, I guess, emotionally tied to someone," Sarah said.

"How he was able to do that not only with me but with other women in such a short period of time? If we look at when I went to police in May 2011 to when he was arrested, multiple women were involved with this and with the charges. And the fact he is able to convince women so easily that he’s emotionally tied to them — that he’s in love with them, that he’s something that he’s not — is a breach of human nature, I guess, if you will. 

"It’s been traumatic, I would say."

Porter was sentenced to a total of 12 months after pleading guilty to one charge each of defrauding Sarah and her father. He received an additional 18 months for his crimes against two other women he met online, as well as two corporate victims: Hudson Bay Company and ING Direct.

He also failed to comply with previous parole conditions.  

Porter spent three months in pre-trial custody.