Real Name: Unknown at the time of the broadcast
Aliases: Jerry Gamble, Robert Cook
Wanted For: Fraud, Theft
Missing Since: 1989
Details: In Missouri, Jerry Gamble deserved the name of "Sweetheart Swindler."
He romanced women and made a lot of enemies as he dated them lavishly, using their money and cash stolen from his past paramours. One of the women he swindled was named "Sara" and in August of 1989, he called her claiming to have met her the past year. She did not remember meeting him. However, when he asked her to go out on a date, she agreed.
At brunch, she gave up her effort to try and figure out where she had met him before. The date was pleasant and the two decided to go out again. Jerry claimed that he was in the jewelry business and was often on the road. He claimed that his driver was out of town, so he was without a car. He also claimed that he was a widower and wanted a new woman in his life.
That evening, Jerry took Sara and her daughter Ellen out to dinner. Ellen was skeptical of her mother's new boyfriend; however, he impressed her when he showed them the jewelry that he sold in various cities. The day after the two met, Jerry began to plan their wedding. He asked her to go with him on a road trip which would culminate in their marriage. He also told her that he would soon be receiving several checks, and that one would have her name on it. He asked her to deposit this check in her bank account, so she could pay her bills before they left. What she did not know is that he had stolen the checks from another girlfriend.
The next day, Jerry took her to the bank, claiming that the check had just arrived. He also asked if she could withdraw money for him. The bank manager helped her deposit check and got her the money for Jerry. The two left and drove to Tennessee; Sara's daughter Ellen came with them. In Memphis, he claimed that he had a business meeting and asked Sara and Ellen to meet him in a hotel lobby. They waited for several hours; however, he never showed up.
Back in Missouri, Sara learned that the check Jerry had given her was no good. He had taken $3000 from her. When she went to the police, they discovered that he had perpetrated scams in fifteen different states for over two years. Most recently, he has struck in Nevada, California, Colorado, and Washington. He has met victims through newspapers, lonely hearts clubs, and bars. He has stolen at least $125,000 from his victims. Police believe that there are more victims that have not come forward out of embarrassment. Investigators are still looking for him, although they do not know if "Jerry Gamble" is his real name.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 28, 1990 episode.
Results: Captured. An Unsolved Mysteries viewer suspected that her friend had been swindled by the Sweetheart Swindler, so she contacted the authorities. Gamble was arrested in Kenosha, Wisconsin under the name of Robert Cook in March 28, 1991, after he had swindled the woman out of $10,000. Police recovered twelve different false identification cards, all in different aliases from different states. They also found blank checks recovered from previous victims.
Gamble a.k.a. the Sweetheart Swindler was eventually identified as Alfred Barakett, a Canadian national. In May of 1992, he was convicted of larceny and fraud charges. He served several years in prison and has since been released.
- Detective's hard work paid off
- Texas holds Sweetheart Swindler without bond on nine charges
- 'Sweetheart Swindler' trial slated
- 'Swindler' pleads innocent
- Trial Targets Man Prosecutors Say Bilked Lonely Women
- 'Swindler' faces 120 years
- 'Sweetheart Swindler' Guilty in Bilking Spree
- Sweetheart complains about jail
- Man who bilked lonely women given 24-year prison term
- Swindler's marriage short and sour