D.A. Bragg Announces Indictment in $1.8M Romance and Investment Scam

March 13, 2023

Nelson Counne Allegedly Stole from 5 Women over 8 Years

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the indictment of NELSON COUNNE, 69, a/k/a “Nelson Roth,” a/k/a “Justin Roth,” for stealing more than $1.8 million from five women through a series of romance and investment scams. COUNNE is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. [1]
“As alleged, Nelson Counne’s sole source of income for the past eight years was money he swindled,” said District Attorney Bragg. “He allegedly fed lie after lie to women he falsely claimed to have a romantic interest in, enticing them with investment opportunities that never existed while using their funds to repay past victims, lure in new ones, and fund his lifestyle. We urge everyone to exercise caution when told there’s an investment opportunity that seems too good to be true. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, we are here to help – call us at 212-335-8900.”
According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, between December 12, 2012, and January 22, 2021, COUNNE stole more than $1.8 million from at least five women using the same romance and investment scam. COUNNE met most of the victims using online dating applications using the alias Nelson Roth or Justin Roth. He purported to be an independently wealthy retired art dealer and investor with homes in London, Manhattan, and the South of France.
COUNNE presented each of the victims with a supposed investment opportunity. He refused to provide details, sometimes telling the women that the investment existed in a “gray area between legal and illegal,” and sometimes hinting he had access to inside information. Among the purported investments COUNNE claimed he could access were Alibaba, as the company prepared to become publicly traded, and a start-up company purportedly run by COUNNE and a former Google executive, which would provide an online lottery that potential college students could pay to enter for a chance to win tuition coverage. Most of the victims were initially hesitant, but COUNNE persisted until each agreed to invest.
After this initial investment, COUNNE sought additional financial support from each of the victims. He justified these requests by saying that the additional money was needed for investment-related expenses such as paying “fixers” to ensure that the deals were completed and paying salaries and housing costs for the staff of the tech start-up. COUNNE claimed that his funds were tied up in the investments, or that his accounts were frozen due to U.S. and European investigations into his financial activities. He promised to repay each of the victims their initial investment plus a substantial profit within a few weeks. 
Ultimately, almost all of COUNNE’s claims were false. Not only did he not own homes in London and the South of France, he has never traveled internationally and does not have a passport. He was not independently wealthy, and the only funds in his accounts were from victims of his romance scams. Instead of being invested, the victims’ funds were used to make COUNNE appear wealthy to new victims, and to repay previous victims who had detected his fraud.
Assistant D.A.s Kofi Sansculotte (Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau) and Raymond Castello (Counsel to the Civil Litigation Unit) are handling the prosecution of this case, under the supervision of Executive Assistant D.A. Susan Hoffinger (Chief of the Investigation Division).

Senior Rackets Investigator Thomas Mullin and former Rackets Investigator Daniel Schoenfeld provided assistance with the investigation, under the supervision of Assistant Chief Investigator Michael Wigdor, Assistant Chief of the Investigation Bureau Jonathan Reid, and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander. Senior Financial Investigator Lana Wong, Trial Preparation Assistant Shamar Walker, and Discovery Analyst Rebecca Singh also assisted with the investigation.
The Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau (“FAFI”) also provided valuable assistance, including Forensic Accountant Investigator William Martin, under the supervision of Irene Serrapica (Deputy Chief of FAFI) and Robert Demarest (Chief of FAFI).
Defendant Information:
New York, New York

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, two counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, one count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.