UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) — He steals their heart, then steals their money. That’s what multiple women across Ohio and other states told police about the same man.
NBC4 Investigates spoke with a woman in Upper Arlington who found she was not the only one to fall for the alleged romance scammer. She spoke on the condition of anonymity and agreed to share her story in hopes of preventing others from falling for a romance ruse.
Dating can be tough, and in one case, for the Upper Arlington woman, it was not.
“He traveled extensively for work. I travel. We had much in common, and we felt like our lives were very similar—in a very similar place, so it was going well,” she said.
Matthew Paulson said he had just relocated to Columbus for a new job– one that paid well, apparently. There were expensive dinners, trips, and eventually a condo in the Short North he said he was about to buy.
That was when the woman in Upper Arlington began to realize things were not adding up.
“A lot of things didn’t make sense. I started asking a lot of questions, which caused some turbulent times in the relationship,” the woman recalled. “He was having to come up with stories to cover one story over another story. There were a lot of family emergencies that he had to jump on flights for.”
The relationship ended when she thought they were going on a vacation in August.
“The day that I was flying in, I got some text messages that (he) had a family emergency with his mother,” she said. “He was going to have to jump on a plane and go back to Chicago.”
Those texts came the day after Paulson had already left Columbus by car, with her luggage, laptop and jewelry.
That was the last she’d hear from him.
“I have not gotten my stuff back,” she said.
It wasn’t the last she’d hear about him.
“I have learned a lot. I have learned that he’s been doing this for 20-some years,” she said.
Once the Upper Arlington woman learned Paulson’s real name, Matthew Person, the floodgates opened to a wealth of information, including a hefty collection of mugshots and ex-girlfriends.
NBC4 Investigates spoke with two other women with similar stories, including Bridget Anderson. The Chicago-area teacher dated Person in 2018.
“He has this saying, which is so cheesy,” Anderson said. “‘You’re my last first kiss.’ And he uses that with everybody.”
Anderson said Person convinced her to sell her house and buy a new one with him.
“Unbeknownst to me, when my house was closing, he called the title company and tried to have the money transferred into my new bank account, which was his bank account,” Anderson said. “We’re talking almost $700,000.”
Anderson said Person did not show up at the closing for the new home, citing an emergency.
The final straw for Anderson eventually came after Person was led out of her house in handcuffs.
“Even then, believe it or not, it was hard with all that evidence,” Anderson said. “I went through all of his stuff. That’s when I found pawn receipts (and) the credit cards he had opened up in my name.”
Police in Bedford Park, Illinois arrested Person on the suspicion that he was racking up personal charges on a company credit card issued by his then-employer.
“There’d be no reason you’d have charges on your card for Bridget or her kids—flights to and from Florida?” an officer asks Person during a video-recorded interview, a copy of which was obtained by NBC4 Investigates through a public records request.
“I would have to go back – I don’t believe – it should have been taken out of my paycheck,” Person told the officers.
The officers interviewing Person state that charges on the credit card totaled $83,000.
“That’s ridiculous… there’s no way,” Person said when confronted with that information.
The police report from that arrest also mentions another girlfriend Person was dating the same time as Anderson.
The criminal charges never stuck in Bedford Park. But elsewhere, they have.
Through public records and local media reports, NBC4 Investigates confirmed criminal charges or ongoing investigations in Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and most recently, Atlanta, Georgia. That’s where Person was arrested right after the Upper Arlington woman last heard from him.
According to the police report, Person was caught trying to steal a car from a Jaguar dealership.
The report details the account of a dealership employee, who told investigators that Person came in and expressed interest in a specific vehicle. While the two were discussing the potential sale in the employee’s office, Person allegedly switched the vehicle’s key with a decoy key he’d brought with him and left. Upon realizing what had happened, the report says dealership employees deactivated the missing key and moved the car from the parking lot, into the building. Dealership employees told police Person returned the following day to the spot where the car had previously been parked, telling employees who approached him he wished to test drive the vehicle. When asked for his license, Person left the dealership. Employees called police shortly after.
According to the report, Person was arrested after officers pulled over an Uber on its way to the airport with Person in the back seat. Upon searching the vehicle with the owners’ consent, police said they found license plates that had been reported as stolen and the Jaguar key fob.
Police said Person also had a suitcase with him.
Person remains in the Fulton County, Georgia jail, where he’s being held without bond. Police told the Upper Arlington victim now she’s welcome to come to their evidence room to get her luggage back.
Once the Atlanta case makes its way through the court system there, Person could be extradited to Texas on a bail jumping warrant.
There is a felony theft warrant for Person’s arrest as a result of the Upper Arlington case, but it’s not an extraditable charge.
Person’s attorney would not comment for this story. A Texas woman identified in police reports as Person’s wife did not return a voicemail from NBC4 Investigates.
Five people identifying themselves as Person’s siblings signed their names to a letter to a district attorney in Texas.
The letter said Person has a track record of “cajoling the finances of several women,” and that it’s been a “recurring theme throughout Matt’s life.”
The siblings ask the DA to prosecute Person to the full extent of Texas law out of concern that he’s a threat to others if he’s not stopped.