The notorious Miami con man who scammed celebrities and sports figures by promising Miami Heat season tickets is now a fugitive — accused of using phony documents to snag ownership of luxury South Florida condos.
An arrest warrant has been issued for George French Jones, 49, after he failed to show up to a recent court date in Miami.
The disappearance was expected by victims of Jones, a law school-trained smooth talker who has spent the past few decades in and out of jail for various swindles. In the Miami case, Jones was free awaiting trial after posting a $30,000 bond, but was never required to wear an ankle monitor.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise. I wish I could have bet on it,” said Los Angeles sports agent David Meltzer, who lost $200,000 to Jones in the Heat scam a few years ago. “What saddens me is that I know he’s going to do it again.”
Jones’ listed phone number no longer accepts incoming calls. His lawyer, Fred Moldovan, could not be reached for comment on Monday morning.
Jones’ long history of financial misdeeds was profiled in the Miami Herald in August.
His most infamous scam started in 2013 with Jones looking for victims by browsing the The Robb Report, a magazine aimed at the jet-setting elite. His play was to offer season tickets for the New York Yankees and the Miami Heat, which was then enjoying the championship successes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Among his unsuccessful 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.
His most lucrative haul was the $200,000 from sports agent Meltzer, who runs Sports1Marketing with NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. Jones claimed he was part of a group that was putting together a deal to sell a small ownership in the franchise, plus courtside seats, from minority owner Sidney Kimmel.
The whole deal turned out to be a sham.
Jones was eventually arrested in Los Angeles. But as has happened throughout his career, he did minimal prison time for stealing from Meltzer and others — just 16 months behind bars. When he got out, Jones moved to South Beach, where police say he began posing as a high-roller looking to buy high-end condos.
According to 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’s also facing a second criminal case, accused of impersonating a condo owner to secure a $441,000 loan against the woman’s posh Brickell home.
In two other cases, civil lawyers allege Jones pulled similar scams — using phony driver licenses and court documents — to gain control of a beachfront Fort Lauderdale condo, as well as a mansion in the Cocoplum neighborhood of Coral Gables.