MUSKEGON, Mich. -- Prosecutors say a fugitive is a known hustler who takes advantage of West Michigan women to fill his wallet.
Elizabeth Luchies knows this from personal experience.
Jeffrey Lucas, 34, of Muskegon County, used his charm to date and then scam nine women our of tens of thousands of dollars, say authorities. Now he's on the run after missing a scheduled court appearance.
“I do know he did target nine victims here in Muskegon and did branch out to another county,” said Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson.
Police in Clare, Mich., are also actively looking for Lucas. They posted on their Facebook page that people shouldnot to approach Lucas but to contact police if they spot him. The charge ther is larceny under false pretenses.
“Which is essentially the way the charge reads,” said Hilson. "It’s lying to get somebody to give you something knowing that when you get that, you weren’t going to use this particular thing for the purpose you lied about,” said Hilson.
For Lucas, it was a practice that paid off, but not without consequences in the past. He served time for a similar scheme in 2009.
“It appears he used ruses like his car needed repairs, or his house needed to be fixed, and his money was tied up, and if they could just loan him the money, then he would pay them back,” said Hilson.
But, like Lucas, the money isn't seen again. Hilson says there is reason to believe Lucas has fled the state, but investigators are still actively looking for him.
Elizabeth Luchies claims to be a victim of Jeffrey Lucas. She dated him for four months this past year, and in total she loaned him $5,000, money she says she could have used for her two children. He promised to pay her back, but she says she hasn't seen a dime.
Luchies says Lucas could lay it on thick. “He would tell me he would do anything for me,” words she thought she could believe in back in March to June of 2014.
Now Luchies is no longer trusting. "The amount of people that are out there that are decent is pretty slim,” she said.
Luchies did things she thought a girlfriend should do, such as loan Lucas money for his phone bill, truck, and house. “I said, 'Oh sure, if you really need it, I can probably help you out.' It’s only 500 bucks,” said Luchies.
But $5,000 later, the standup guy she imagined she was dating began to show signs that proved he was anything but a standup guy.
“It was like every time I talked to him, something was wrong and broken or needed something, but once I helped him with whatever he needed help with, I would call him later that day, he was nowhere to be found."
Luchies later found out he was dating someone else, and she began to have a feeling he wasn’t using the money for what he said he needed it for.
That's when she broke it off, and she later saw a post online that put everything into perspective. “I saw the Facebook post from another police station from someone that I knew that shared it, I had no idea that this was his M.O. I had no clue,” she said.
Elizabeth didn't know where to turn back then, but she plans on filing a police report and hopes this doesn't happen to anyone else.