News


Traveling con man Simon Gann arrested in Menlo Park

Police search for more victims

By Sandy Brundage

Almanac Staff Writer

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 Mr. Gann on Monday, Aug. 16, after finding him hiding in his latest victim'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, Mr. Gann also has a warrant out in New Hampshire, and was arrested last August in Ottawa. The charges? Fraud.

The police said Mr. 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 Mr. 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."

Mr. 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 Mr. 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," Ms. 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."

Ms. 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 Mr. Wagstaffe. The defendant listed a New York address and declared himself unemployed.

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

Mr. 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.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:36 am

[Post removed. Please stay on topic.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sigh
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

Thanks Council Watcher...that comment was really on point and topic with this story.

Good for the victim in this case. Sounds like it could have been a lot worse...trust your instincts as this woman did. Congratulations for being smart and strong and turning this turd in!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

A former victim made a website alerting women across the country about this guy and his twin.

Web Link

credit: the Daily Post


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JustSoYouKnow
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

The Almanac story, posted 16 hours before the Post was printed, broke the story about the website and the woman who runs it.


FROM THE STORY:
One woman, Meredith Gavin of New York, maintains a website (Web Link) 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 Mr. 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," Ms. 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."

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


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Awesome. Thanks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by FF
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

Hahah. I love this guy. Back in September 2007, on a trip with 2 friends of mine to Atlantic City, we met Simon Gann, he used Simone at the time. We hung out for a few hours and he claimed to have been a child physics prodigy who studied at MIT and then worked as a trader at LTCM 10 years prior. At the time he said he was in the midst of a deal and showed us the deed to his $7 million home in DC and claimed he could count cards in Blackjack. Long story short, one of my friends immediately suspected that he was a con artist, I was oblivious and unconcerned, thinking what's the point he can't get anything from us, while my other friend totally bought his card counting story (I will admit it was largely due to my belief in his apparent genius). The friend who realized the con then attempted to con him by having him treat us to a nice meal using his comp card. Unfortunately for us, he only had some $45 worth, so we wound him having a nice meal at a 10% discount. We then went to the Caesar's casino and he proceeded to lose a couple of hundred dollars that my friend gave him. My friend then tilted, went into degenerate gambler mode and won back his money and about $100 more. In the mean time as Simon went to the restroom, we ditched him and drove back home. We then spent the night and the next week analyzing his story and the inconsistencies that we glossed over and researching him on the net (nothing as this was well before Meridith's web site).

He pretty much ended us going to AC, we used to go 10-15 times a year, since that trip only once in 3 years. I mean after meeting Simon Gann, what's the point, we'll never have as great an experience in AC as we did that day.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MP
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I ran into this guy in Guatemala a few years ago. Trying to con ex-pats into staking him gambling money. He wasn't very slick about it and a lot of people were suspicious. #1 was the claim that we would win a lot of money at a casino in Antigua and they would let him walk out of there. Kind of hard to walk out of a casino with broken legs, which is what would have happened if he'd tried.


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