Donna Anderson felt she was fooled by her husband. Just a couple of years after her blissful wedding, her life disintegrated because James was looking to take all of her money.
Donna was a successful woman who got a got as the editor of Atlantic City Magazine right out of college, and it was a fascinating time because the first casino had just opened in the seaside town. After she left the magazine, she branched out on her own as a freelance copywriter. She bought a house and had a nice life, but she really wanted a relationship and a family.
When she was getting close to 40 she felt like she was running out of time. She made a checklist of what she was looking for in a partner. She wanted someone who was smart, had good ethics, and wanted children.
A dating ad caught her eye from a financially secure widower who said he looked like Sean Connery. He also said that he was a tv producer and an ex-Green Beret.
When she called his answering machine she heard that he had an Australian accent, which also intrigued her. When she finally met James Montgomery, though she realized he wasn’t quite the Sean Connery lookalike he claimed to be. “The only thing he had in common was male pattern baldness,” she quips on Investigation Discovery’s Love, Honor, Betray.
Despite that exaggeration about his looks, Donna found that she clicked with James. She found out the startling news that his wife had died only four months ago. He told her that he’d lost a lot of people and he felt like he just had to move on.
Soon, however, he confessed to Donna that he had lied about his age. He was really 51, not 49. Donna was glad that he had fibbed because she thought he had said he was in his 50s they wouldn’t have met.
She also learned about his past failed marriages. He had been divorced from a woman named Patricia for many years. 5 years ago his marriage with a woman named Kathleen ended.
Shortly, James proposed to Donna, and she was flattered so she said yes. One day James told Donna he had to go away on a mission for Special Forces. She also found out that he had a daughter, Margaret, when he was a teenager, and told Donna that he maybe wanted to start a family with her.
He also had some big plans. He wanted to build three grandiose businesses: a TV station, theme parks, and an electronic theme park for adults. Donna was excited by these ideas and wanted to work with him on them. She looked over his proposals, and he asked her to invest in the businesses. Again, she was flattered that he wanted her to earn a profit from his businesses if they succeeded.
James moved into Donna’s house and she hired carpenters to convert her home gym into his business. While the contractors worked on this, the couple went to Australia to visit James’ family.
James would often record Donna when she wasn’t looking. This made her feel like he really loved her. James also started to pressure her to get married right away in Australia while they were there. He promised to have another wedding in New Jersey too, so she agreed.
When they got back to the States Donna saw a side to James she had never seen before. He flew into a rage because the construction work wasn’t finished yet. Donna was scared to see him like this and called her friends to finish the job. James never apologized.
James would set to work every day in his office. Things weren’t really taking off, however. He also asked Donna to take out a loan on her house to pay for their New Jersey wedding.
Donna saw a red flag when they went on their honeymoon in Paris and James didn’t want to go to the edge of the Eiffel Tower. She found that weird because he was supposed to be a Special Forces agent who jumped out of planes all the time. She put the thought out of her head, however.
When they got back from their honeymoon, Donna’s brother asked to run a credit report on James because he and her dad suspected that Donna had paid for the whole wedding. Donna declined because she wanted to protect James, and also because she didn’t want to know the truth. She also didn’t want her family to know that she was nervous about finances.
James asked her if she wanted him to leave because his business plans weren’t working out. She told him not to leave and continued to support him. At the end of 1997 things seemed to be turning around. James had an idea to develop a Titanic-themed show in Atlantic City. He said he had an investor that was going to donate $500,000.
The Titanic show was supposed to open in June 1998, but the investors pulled out. James wanted to push forward anyway, and Donna started to feel more and more confused about what was really going on. When the Titanic show didn’t work out in Atlantic City, James told Donna that they had a deal in Florida, so they moved there.
There was no deal, though. Donna has risked everything for a deal that didn’t exist. Donna had gone from having a stable financial situation to being in debt. She was completely unmoored and had no idea what was going to happen.
James had a new scheme. He asked Donna to pay for a plane ticket to go to Florida to sell their artifacts. She told him to take whatever deal they offered him, and he got angry with her. She couldn’t find some valuable rings she was planning to pawn for groceries. He told her they were in a lockbox. She went to the box and found her rings, but she also found recent pictures of James with a baby. She even found the birth certificate and realized that the baby had been conceived and born while he was married to Donna.
She then found more betrayal. He had been using Donna’s money to write checks to the mother of his child. Now Donna had a reason to leave. She left a note on the table letting James know she was leaving for good.
James would beg for Donna to come back to him and claimed he never did anything to deliberately hurt her. Donna also found out information about his second wife Kathleen. She called Kathleen and found out that Kathleen had had a similar experience with James. He had asked Kathleen to take out mortgages on her house and to take out credit cards. In all, Kathleen lost $200k to James.
Donna realized that James’ interest in her had been her money all along, and they weren’t the only ones. Donna used her reporting skills to find out that James had been involved with dozens of women over the past few years and he owed many of them money.
Donna also found out that James’ wife Gail had passed away only two months before. Also, he had lied about his age twice to Donna. He first advertised that he was 49, then he said he was 51, but he was actually 55. He was not really in the military, especially not Special Forces. He even faked his picture on the cover of a military magazine, along with a lot of other documents.
James had also committed bigamy when he married Gail because he didn’t file for divorce from Kathleen before he married her. He also married the mother of his baby before divorcing Donna, which means he committed bigamy twice.
They were able to prove in court that James had taken $480,000 from three women, including $227,000 from Donna alone. The judge awarded Donna the $227,000 that James stole from her along with $1 million in damages. James claimed to have no assets and income, so he couldn’t pay. James was never criminally charged.
Donna felt like not only her money was taken, but also her ability to have a child because she was 44-years-old once all of this happened. Donna created the website lovefraud.com to help warn other people from being taken advantage of.
James eventually passed away, and Donna felt nothing when she heard. She’s since found love with her current husband Terry Kelly. They married in 2005, and they have a wonderful relationship.