Southaven Police Arrest Online Dating Scammer

Southaven Police Arrest Online Dating Scammer

A Mississippi man is in trouble with the law, accused of scamming people on a dating website. Southaven police arrested him after four victims came forward, and investigators think there may be more.
SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - A Mississippi man is in trouble with the law, accused of scamming people on a dating website. Southaven police arrested him after four victims came forward, and investigators think there may be more.

This man cooked up an elaborate scheme creating a fake dating profile, chatting with several ladies and setting up phony dates - all to take their cell phones.

"He was really eager to meet me so I was like, yea sure. Then he stole my phone."

Not the start to 19-year-old Paige Farrow's fairy tale romance, rather a cautionary tale on how not to get your phone stolen.

"I met the guy online at Plenty of Fish. We talked for a while." She later found out, "He didn't even tell me his real name."

Her love interest's dating profile read Bryan Harden, but his real name is Austin Baeumlisberger. Police say the 25-year-old police was targeting young women in the Mid-South.

"[Police] told me he's done this to three other girls besides myself," Farrow said.

The story is largely the same for each victim. Baeumlisberger would invite the women to his apartment, meet them in the parking lot and ask to use their cell phones.

"Well, he took my phone and started walking off and I said, 'Wait, which apartment?' and he was gone. I went to the apartment he told me and he did not live there. I sat there for like, 45 minutes and I finally realized he's not coming back. He just stole my phone"

The thefts happened the first two weeks of February to women from Shelby, DeSoto and Tate Counties.

For Lt. Mark Little with the Southaven Police Department, the crimes could have been a much closer call. "What could this escalate to later? What could his intentions change to and what could happen. That's why we wanted to put a stop to it as quick as we could."

Farrow says she's done with dating sites like Plenty of Fish.

"I'm not trusting somebody over the Internet, so I don't even use websites anymore to meet anybody."

In the future, she'll look for love in person.

Farrow wants to see Baeumlisberger tossed in jail. The thefts are misdemeanor crimes. Each count could net up to six months behind bars. Farrow hopes he gets the maximum time.

"Honestly, I do because maybe it will teach him a lesson to not mess with young girls and steal stuff. Gosh, go get a job and buy your own!"

Baeumlisberger is currently out on bond. He has an arrest record in Florida from two years ago when he was charged with stealing.

Southaven police are working with the dating site to see if there are any more victims.

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