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Online romance scammer sentenced to 3 to 9 years in prison

A Grand Island man who defrauded three women out of more than $300,000 on the ruse that he would set up households with each of them was sentenced Wednesday in State Supreme Court to an indeterminate three to nine years in prison.

Eric Marshall, 42, met two of his victims online and began what each woman thought would be an exclusive relationship. One woman sent Marshall $700 a month for what she thought was her share of a home purchase. She also gave him money for clothes and other expenses, according to prosecutors.

The second woman paid Marshall $1,500 a month, loaned him money and paid $8,000 to fix a fictitious water leak in their nonexistent home, an investigation showed. The third woman also gave Marshall money for a house she thought they were buying together.

Marshall reportedly operated his scam between July 2009 and July 2016. He was arrested later that year and pleaded guilty to three counts of grand larceny in the second degree and one count of scheme to defraud in June 2017.

Candace K. Vogel, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau, agreed to the delay in sentencing so Marshall could raise money to pay restitution to his victims. He reportedly has repaid more than $280,000.

“As online dating and social media proliferate, so does the chance that a person can become a victim of a crime,” said District Attorney John J. Flynn in a statement. “I urge people to be more proactive in researching who are they engaging with online and giving their money to.”

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