Conman who once sold bogus LeBron-era Heat season tickets gets 9 years in prison

Notorious conman targeted luxury $3.5 million Fort Lauderdale home

Businessman Benjamin Gettler says longtime conman George French Jones used fake documents to secure a $1 million mortgage on his waterfront Fort Lauderdale property.

Businessman Benjamin Gettler says longtime conman George French Jones used fake documents to secure a $1 million mortgage on his waterfront Fort Lauderdale property.

Rental-car agencies, banks, sports celebrities, wealthy property owners — over the decades, slick-talking conman George French Jones scammed them all. But never did he do any serious prison time.

Until he faced Miami U.S. Judge Robert Scola.

The federal judge on Friday sentenced Jones to nine years in prison for using phony passports to take out $1.7 million in loans against two luxury homes in Fort Lauderdale, the latest in a long string of cons stretching from California to South Beach.

Scola also ordered Jones to pay $1.8 million in restitution.

Jones’ most infamous scam happened in 2013 when Jones began offering rich people season tickets for the Miami Heat, which was then enjoying the championship successes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Among his targets: former NFL players Charles Woodson and Jarvis Green. He also scammed Nick Cannon, a TV personality and former husband of singer Mariah Carey, out of $15,000, purportedly for a share of the Atlanta Hawks.

Jones wound up going to prison in Southern California for stealing $200,000 from sports agent David Meltzer, who runs a marketing firm with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Jones falsely claimed he was part of a group that was putting together a deal to sell a small ownership in the franchise.

But Jones did just 16 months in prison. When he got out, Jones moved to South Beach, where detectives believe he began posing as a high-roller looking to buy luxury condos.

According to Miami-Dade prosecutors, Jones used phony documents to try to gain ownership of a high-end South Beach condo while at the same time trying to take out a $250,000 loan against the property. He was charged in a second criminal case, accused of impersonating a condo owner to secure a $441,000 loan against a woman’s posh Brickell home.

But while awaiting trial last fall, Jones was not required to wear an electronic ankle monitor. He vanished. Jones is still facing trial in the state cases.

However, he soon re-surfaced again with the same scam. One of his targets: a $3.5 million four-bedroom waterfront home in the Rio Vista neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale. The home is owned by V&H Ventures.

Benjamin Gettler, the businessman who is the company’s managing partner, said he got a call from a closing agent who told him about the bogus mortgage on the home. The lender, TCM Finance, had already paid out the money.

Gettler complained to the FBI, which found another Broward property he also targeted. After his federal arrest, Jones pleaded guilty to mail theft and identify fraud.