Internet Casanova wooed women then robbed them

Internet Casanova wooed women then robbed them
Michael R. Kent (Photo courtesy of KXLY-TV, Spokane)
SPOKANE, Wash. - He's a felon, a con man and now a bank robber, according to police.

Michael R. Kent is accused of seducing women, then leaving them with a swath of financial destruction.

Heather Blair met Kent on an Internet dating website in early 2009.

"He seemed nice," she said. "He seemed very normal. He's a very handsome man. There was just something about his personality."

Blair thought Kent was a good catch. He paid attention to her. He listened. He had a good job.

"He led me to believe he was wealthy. He had jeeps and cars," she said.

Kent took Blair on trips to the coast, and treated her to fancy dinners.

"He made me laugh. He swept me off my feet, and knew exactly what to say to me," Blair said. "He treated me like a woman."

Their relationships bloomed, and Kent eventually moved in with Blair. They were ready to start a new life together, Blair said.

"There was talk of getting married. We'd build our own house together, and it would be ours," she said.

All signs pointed to a happily ever after. Until August 14, 2009.

Blair went out of town with some girlfriends. When she returned home, Kent was gone. She had no idea where he'd gone, and he did not answer his phone.

Blair turned to their cell phone bill and noticed a number that Kent had called. It was a number she didn't recognize. She dialed the number, and she reached a woman named Melissa Thompson.

"I got a call last August from a woman who left a message and said, 'I have some questions for you about a Michael Richard Kent.' It was Heather," Thompson said.

Thompson dated Kent 10 years ago. She also met him online, and he also pushed to quickly move in with her. But after a few months, Kent vanished without a word.

"He just disappeared," Thompson said. "I came home one day, and he was gone."

After a few days, Thompson began receiving packages she did not order and bills in her name for credit cards she says she did not open.

"That's when I checked my credit report. Michael had been using my name to open accounts," said Thompson.

Several credit cards and bank accounts were opened in her name by Michael Kent, Thompson said.

"This huge mountain just collapsed on me," she said. "Eventually I had to file for bankruptcy."

And when Thompson received a call from Blair that August day, she told Blair to check her own credit report, guessing, "He's probably done this to you, too."

Sure enough, Blair says Kent had left her, too, in a financial mess.

"There were three accounts he opened in my name on the Internet," Heather said.

And those cards were racking up charges. Court documents show nearly $15,000 was unloaded from Blair's accounts.

Blair contacted police, and still left in a daze as to how she ended up in this mess, began researching Kent's background.

"As more unraveled ... I got angry," she said.

It turns out Kent has a rap sheet that's longer than most of his relationships. The sheet, which dates back 10 years, includes more than 20 felony charges for a variety of crimes, from forgery to theft.

He also has at least three ex-wives in three states.

Investigators believe Kent may have defrauded as many as 12 women in just the past few years. All the cases follow the same pattern: Kent meets a woman online, charms her, moves in, opens cards and accounts in her name, then leaves.

In December 2009, however, police believe Kent went from defrauding women to robbing banks. Court documents show Kent walked into a North Spokane Chase Bank on Dec. 16, 2009, and handed the teller a note stating he had a gun and that he wanted money. He walked out with wads of cash.

On Dec. 24, Kent robbed a Numerica branch in North Spokane, investigators said, and in January, he used another girlfriend's truck to rob a Washington Trust branch in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Kent's run came to an end on Feb. 4, when he was arrested for investigation of bank robbery and identity theft. Now his victims are waiting for justice to be served.

"This guy is a piece of trash," Thompson said. "He's ruined so many lives."

"We are all just embarrassed that we fell for this," Blair said.