Traveling con man arrested in Menlo Park

Police search for more victims

There's your run-of-the-mill bad boyfriend, and then there's Simon Gann. A 32-year-old Menlo Park woman suspected that the man she'd been dating was not who he said he was, despite his claims of being a math savant and purchasing a multi-million dollar San Francisco home.

Since "Saleem Dutante" was talking her out of money, the identity confusion set off alarm bells. After she found he had an I.D. card bearing a different name, a quick search of the Internet justified her misgivings.

Turns out his real name is Simon Gann. Far from being the wealthy doctor or prestigious mathematician he reportedly poses as, the 29-year-old man is infamous for a long string of alleged fraud victims tossed aside in his wake across the United States and Canada.

Menlo Park police arrested Gann on Monday (Aug. 16) after finding him hiding in his girlfriend's closet.

He is charged with resisting arrest, obtaining money under false pretenses, and grand theft, to the tune of $1,900.

Apparently quite mobile, Gann also has a warrant out in New Hampshire, and was arrested last August in Ottawa. The charges? Fraud.

The police said Gann allegedly targets women and men at social venues like coffee shops or bars, claiming to be a well-to-do victim of theft who just needs a little loan to get back on his feet after losing all of his personal identification.

The Menlo Park victim met Gann at Starbucks a few weeks ago. He spoke of graduating from MIT and started a romantic relationship; she loaned him money to help replace his passport, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. "But she had a great nose and smelled a rat."

Gann's identical twin brother, Jordan, is serving five years in Florida prison for conning a woman out of thousands of dollars by posing as an Ivy League oncologist and real estate mogul in 2008.

One woman, Meredith Gavin of New York, maintains a [ website chronicling her experiences with the Gann brothers. She said she met one of the twins (she isn't sure which) seven years ago in an Orlando bar. "I go back and forth," she said. "I swear it was Jordan, but then Simon continues to stay in touch with me."

She described the man she met as "really smart, really smooth," a man who claimed to have just come from a meeting where he sold his rights to a cancer research technique, and had apparently legitimate documents to prove it.

The two hung out for about a week, until a friend of hers voiced suspicions after Gann said he had tickets to a non-existent basketball game. She started checking his voicemails and realized something wasn't right. The man vanished, along with her money, but left behind a pregnant Meredith Gavin. She still does not know which identical twin fathered her son.

She started the website in hopes of saving someone else from being conned. "People don't report it because they're embarrassed, and ashamed. I was the same way. I know how I felt and I was angry that no one tried to stop that from happening to me," Gavin said.

"If you think something is off, it probably is. Think about how you feel, and how you could prevent that from happening to someone else by coming forward."

Gavin said she received e-mails indicating Simon Gann had been in California for at least five weeks.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach set bail at $30,000, and he did not qualify for a private defender provided by the county, according to Wagstaffe. The defendant listed a New York address and declared himself unemployed.

The deputy district attorney said Gann would remain here until this case is resolved, then he would be transferred to other jurisdictions to face outstanding charges.

Gann listed a Pacifica woman as an emergency contact. Police ask that anyone with information about this man call 650-330-6300 or the anonymous tip line at 650-330-6395.

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Like this comment
Posted by Random comment person
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Just throw this guy to the sharks. I will foot the diesel bill for the boat ride to the Farallones and buy the crew a round of drinks when they return to the dock.

Like this comment
Posted by thug
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:35 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Paula Drake PI
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

A perfect example of why I recommend that everyone have a background investigation done on all new love interests.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Although I do feel sorry for the victims, this definitely has a humorous side. I think it would be a great plot for a book or a movie.

I am glad the twins are both caught and being punished.

Like this comment
Posted by Hate da bad boys
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Karma normally gets them one way or another... Glad these scumbags are off the streets.... normally justice is never served. I hate narcisissist con men.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

In re to what Paula Drake, PI says, a lot of bs can be sussed out w/intelligence & a clear head & a Google search. A background check is not necessary, but it sure helps pay a PI's bills.

Like this comment
Posted by lol
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:08 am

this woman got this tool good...haha..hiding in the closet, lol...thought he was going to come to the bay area and fool someone...classic

Like this comment
Posted by Cynthia
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

Mmmmmmmm! One has to wonder how these two men were able to get away with so much before being caught, the elephant in the room says it's because of the way they "look"!

My two grown sons without a record are constantly being watched and judged at all times because of the way they look. They wouldn't have made it past the first victim.

It's called "caucasain" privilege. Don't get mad, it's something I learned in a college course. It's called the real world that a lot of people on this site prove often with comments on stories depending on how the "criminal" looks or where they live.

There are also a lot that aren't like that, which is impressive to me. Those are the "realist" and also my hero's.

Like this comment
Posted by Cynthia
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

As for the "victims", I didn't see anywhere where any of these men forced these "lonely or gullible" victims to do anything for them. But I'm almost positive that these same people would not hesitate to judge or look down on the next person if they saw a negative story referring to something happening in a "poor" community.

The comparisons are boring and sad when "people" actually believe that they are better than others because of their complexion or where they reside. Especially if it was inherited from someone else that inherited it, meaning wealth or complexion. The same people you look down on are the ones who made it possible to be able to "look down", that's too bad.

Like this comment
Posted by Maddie
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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