THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Smooth online suitor swindled women of $200,000, police say

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By Mark Arsenault and Vivian Yee
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / August 18, 2011

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He sounded so dreamy in his online personal ad:

“Handsome, Sensual, Warm and Kind professional man,’’ who enjoyed “art, travel, film, Mozart and Bach, jazz and blues, collecting antiques, history, PBS, BBC, British humour, long French kisses, holding hands, star gazing, quiet evenings at home, dining out.’’

But Albert B. Lovering of Waltham was not looking for love on the Web; he was looking for victims to romance out of their money, according to a 24-count indictment released yesterday by a Middlesex grand jury.

Lovering, 54, is charged with swindling more than $200,000 over the past five years, through a pattern of deception that exploited the affections of four women “who were conned into believing the defendant cared for them,’’ said Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.

Lovering, who is heavyset with graying blond hair and a deep voice, pleaded not guilty yesterday in Superior Court in Woburn, and did not immediately post his $10,000 bail.

He is accused of using false professions of his love and affection, phony health crises, and other made-up emergencies as part of a web of lies to persuade women he met through online dating sites to lend him money he did not repay, according to the indictment.

His lies allegedly grew bold enough to create an imaginary best friend, Doug Spencer, to explain how Lovering could cash checks sent to his post office box in Massachusetts, while he said he was ailing in a hospital in New Hampshire, authorities said.

Appearing calm and relaxed at arraignment, Lovering sat in the front row of the courtroom with a woman who identified herself as his wife, talking composedly and chuckling at a court officer’s joke. He listened quietly as the clerk read off the larceny charges against him.

None of the women Lovering is accused of scamming is named in the court paperwork.

The indictment, which reads like the plot line of a primetime legal drama, alleges the series of events.

In 2006, Lovering met his first alleged victim through a personal ad on Yahoo.com.

After drinks in North Andover, they began dating once or twice a week. Soon after, he said his eBay account was not working and persuaded her to bid on a pistol holster he wanted, promising to pay her back. She won the bid, for $231.02, but was not reimbursed.

Next she bought a Nazi SS ring on his behalf from a memorabilia dealer, for $4,500, and then an antique lock, for $1,040.

About this time he asked her to cosign a $4,500 loan from a Watertown bank, promising to give her the proceeds to pay down what he owed her.

She cosigned the documents, but Lovering spent the proceeds on a presentation box for the ring.

Then he stopped making payments on his bank loan. “Because she had cosigned the loan, the bank looked to her for repayment,’’ the indictment states.

Lovering met his second alleged victim through Craigslist in 2006. Soon, he was asking her for loans while romancing her with red roses and love notes, romantic dinners and “professions of warmth, affection, and physical attraction.’’

One day, he said that he had been admitted to a New Hampshire hospital for diverticulitis, pinched nerves, skin cancer on the nose, and heart surgery. He refused to tell her which hospital. But he told her that his insurance would not cover his medical bills,and that the hospital would not release him with an unpaid balance. She agreed to loan him money.

Lovering’s alter ego, Doug Spencer, then appeared by e-mail, saying he was Lovering’s friend. Spencer volunteered to ferry loan checks from Lovering’s local postal box to the New Hampshire hospital, for the ailing Lovering to endorse.

But in fact, Lovering picked up the checks himself and cashed them at a bank in Massachusetts, often the day they arrived. He did not repay more than $70,000 in loans, prosecutors said.

In May 2008, Lovering struck up a new relationship with a woman he met on Craigslist, and borrowed $7,200. They made plans to see the Red Sox together, but he canceled, saying his mother had died. She lost track of him when he canceled his phone service.

The indictment cites one other relationship, which began in December 2008. By the next month, Lovering was allegedly repeating the New Hampshire hospital ruse, with help again from the fictitious Doug Spencer.

Over the next six months, he is accused of bilking the victim out of more than $100,000. Bank security photos show Lovering cashing checks in Weston at the time he said he was laid up in New Hampshire, prosecutors say.

In 2009, Lovering admitted in New Hampshire to stealing the identity of his brother’s roommate, Thomas J. McLean of Londonderry, to buy three military relics worth about $7,700 in an auction, Londonderry police said.

McLean only discovered the purchases when the dealer sent him a bill, Lieutenant Kevin Cavallaro said in an interview.

Lovering said it was just a misunderstanding, but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was ordered to pay restitution.

Yesterday, Daniel Flaherty, who is Lovering’s court-appointed lawyer, argued before Judge Sandra Hamlin that Lovering should be released on personal recognizance, citing Lovering’s wife of 12 years, his local roots as a Brookline native, and his job.

Lovering, a 1980 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, previously worked as a doorman at the Japanese consulate in Boston, Flaherty said. He declined to say where Lovering works now.

He cited unspecified health problems afflicting Lovering, which caused Assistant District Attorney Doug Cannon to balk: “Your Honor, I’m no doctor,’’ he said, “but he’s cried wolf about his health for a period of years.’’

Cannon said Lovering is a flight risk and sketched out a history that included using aliases, keeping property under other people’s names, and advertising on Craigslist for apartments and roommates in cities across the world, from Phoenix to Halifax to Zurich.

A pretrial hearing is set for Sept. 16.

Lovering’s wife, who identified herself only as Mrs. Lovering, declined to answer reporters’ questions.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com. Vivian Yee can be reached at vyee@globe.com.