PLEASANT HILL, Iowa -- Instead of going with her gut, Lisa Olivier followed her heart and it would be a costly mistake. The Pleasant Hill mom is now trying to dig her way out of debt after she says she trusted a man she met on Tinder.
With more than 20 billion matches, Olivier decided to take a swipe at love. Up pops a match and she and a man named Jay start talking. They decided to meet that night in person at a local bar for dinner.
"It just felt so right," recalled Olivier.
Her Mr. Right was named Jay Davis, a single father and family man. Davis told her he worked US Cellular and she could use his employee discount to upgrade her phone.
After a little convincing, she bought three new iPhones. It didn't stop there, Olivier charged an Apple watch, a MacBook and other gadgets. She only did it after he promised to pay her back.
"He says I'll give you my routing number and account number and you can use it to pay right after it," explained Olivier.
There were warning signs, but she wanted to believe. Olivier even believed Davis' excuses when that routing number didn't work and he was MIA.
"When I get to the address he gave me, low and behold ... it's the office building to an apartment complex," she said.
That's when she knew it was all a scam and she was stuck with a $10,648.70 bill.
"It's kind of almost devastating that I have to pay on these bills because I'm on the hook for all of that part of it because I agreed to it."
Olivier didn't agree to everything. Her credit report shows at least nine accounts that she didn't open. She says Davis racked up $2600 on one of them.
When she went to file a report with Pleasant Hill Police, Olivier learned Jay Davis isn't his real name. Police told her there is no one matching his description anywhere in Iowa.
With only a Tinder profile to go on, we enlisted the help of local private investigator Kip Ireland. We asked him to try to put a name to the face.
"I went on Polk County jails website and I found something like 7,000 pictures," said Ireland.
Scrolling through the mug shots one at a time, Ireland came across a man named John Clarke. It turns out he's facing theft charges in multiple counties eerily like the con Olivier says he ran on her.
"Oh yeah, he's bad. He's bad news," said Ireland.
A woman in Montgomery County claims a man she met online named Jay Clarkson talked her into charging three cell phones, an Apple watch, and a HAM radio. When she went to collect the money he owed her, his account was no good. To date, she says she's out $3,098.80. The court would later refile the theft charges using the man’s real name, John Clarke.
Court documents in Polk County accuse Clarke of using “deception” to get three cell phones out of another woman for a total of $1,900. That’s not all, his criminal history in Polk County alone reveals he’s a “habitual offender” with charges and convictions dating back decades.
“I got goosebumps when I finally found the guy. I got lucky, but there was a little bit of work involved, but I got lucky. Did a few fist bumps and it felt good to find him,” Ireland said.
Earlier this month, we found Clarke at the Polk County courthouse. He was there to enter a Not Guilty plea to one of those recent theft charges. We asked him about Olivier’s case and the other pending charges.
“You have no comment, sir?”
“I don't know who that is,” Clarke told us.
“The woman that you're here for. Can you tell me why you're here?”
“I can't tell you nothing,” said Clarke.
“Ok, well we just want to get your side of the story.”
“No mam, goodbye,”
Despite his claims of not knowing Olivier, she positively ID’d him as the smooth-talking man she knew as Jay Davis.
“I can't even understand people doing that to other people directly to your face. Even after I told him I was struggling with the bills as it was. He said, I want to help you out all the while he was setting me up to be further in debt,” said Olivier.
She is still waiting for an arrest in her case and believes he committed identity theft. Even if Olivier never sees a dime of the money she says he owes her, there’s another way to make him pay.
“I can make him pay and have to go to jail. I, at least helped one other woman in this world not get scammed by this guy.”
The private investigator turned over all of his information to Pleasant Hill Police to help with Olivier’s case. A spokesperson for the department told us police can’t comment on an open investigation.