To the women he met online and wooed, he was a self-made property mogul worth millions of dollars who drove a flashy sports car and showered them with jewels.
But in reality, Paul Carter was a tradesman from outer-suburban Melbourne with a talent for lying who had orchestrated a series of scams on unsuspecting victims.
Tonight on 60 Minutes, Carter was confronted by a camera crew at a property in Albany in upstate New York, and admitted to at least some of his tall tales.
Perhaps the most sinister being the one he spun to Katherine de Bois when he met her in April 2014, about the death of his beloved wife Brooklin.
“She died of bone cancer eight years before he met me,” Katherine told the Channel 9 show.
Carter, who she matched with on an online dating site, went into “great detail, graphic detail” about his late wife’s final months, describing the “rotten breath, the hollow, sunken eyes”, news.com.au reported.
In hindsight, it was his attempt to craft a backstory so painful and horrific that no one would ever want to bring it up again, she said.
“You can’t come up to someone and question them about a story like that,” Katherine said.
It worked and the beauty salon owner well under the spell of the fit, well-dressed and charismatic Carter.
Just 12 weeks after meeting, he popped the question with a massive 3.5-carat diamond sparkler, which was fake.
For their lavish engagement party at Melbourne’s State Library in 2014 — which he quietly charged to her — he draped jewels around her neck and wrist, said to be worth $250,000.
“He just said that I was the love of his life and that he wanted to spend the rest of it with me and he wanted our life to start now,” Katherine recalled. “Wanted me to make him the happiest man in the world.”
Those jewels were fake too, and so was Carter’s smile. The motive for his whirlwind romancing was a $300,000 payday that she was going to provide.
Katherine’s business was to be resumed and purchased by the government to make way for a development and she was set to make $300,000.
“There was a lot of stress involved in it, and I was trying to run the business and deal with lawyers,” she told the show.
“And then there was Paul who was just such a rich, rich, multi-millionaire man that he wasn’t going to be interested in my meagre $250,000, $300,000 payout.”
And so, she let him take legal ownership of the premises to manage the sale and negotiate the amount.
Halfway around the world, Brooklin — not dead at all — was looking at a photograph of her husband celebrating his engagement to another woman.
Her young son — Carter’s child — had discovered the picture online.
“Can you imagine finding out that about your dad? He’s supposed to be your superhero and now he’s nothing to him. He’s just an embarrassment,” Brooklin told 60 Minutes.
Brooklin first met Carter online in 2002 and was swept off her feet immediately, she said, and they were married the following year.
He sold himself to her and her family — wealthy property developers — as a successful businessman with a cashflow problem.
But he was about to receive an inheritance from a European relative, and so if he could just borrow some money to fund his business endeavours until then … well, it worked.
“He’s showing me bank statements and a whole array of other documentation, which he produced fraudulently,” Brooklin said.
“I thought, you know this guy’s going to protect me and take care of me and I’m going to be safe with him. I was his retirement fund, undoubtedly.”
Carter swindled “at least two million” from her and her father, she said.
In 2014, amid escalating tension in the family over the unpaid loans, Carter suggested he, Brooklin and their son move to the United States.
He sent the two ahead while he tied up his Australian business interests. That’s when he met Katherine.
When confronted at his home in New York State by 60 Minutes, Carter said it was a “mistake” to lie to Katherine about being a widower.
“Yeah. That was a mistake. It was a mistake,” he said. “I was going through a bad time with my then wife, and it was just a mistake. Yeah, yeah.”
He also conceded that it was a mistake to claim he was awaiting millions of dollars in inheritance from an Italian relative, simply saying: “Yeah, it was.”
Carter has also vehemently denied that he allegedly raped Katherine when she confronted him about his double life.
The allegation is untested. Victoria Police said Carter will be arrested at the border if he re-enters Australia and questioned over the claim.
When the allegation was put to him by 60 Minutes, he insisted he could prove it was false with: “An email from Katherine to say, ‘If you don’t give me this, I’m going to say that you did that.’ So I have that.”
But when asked to provide it, Carter said he didn’t have it with him and would forward it later. The show pointed out that he hasn’t.
Last month, the Herald Sun newspaper confronted Carter in New York. He denied having conned anyone.
After learning the truth, Katherine was able to regain control of her affairs and avoid losing any of the money she was set to receive.
Last year, Brooklin finally called it quits for good with Carter and the two divorced.
“I feel like everybody’s looking at me saying ‘what sort of idiot are you? But I have a degree in business and a degree in law. I’m not an idiot,” she said.
“It’s just I was so manipulated by him and I really wanted the relationship to work. And that’s the bottom line.”
And the final kicker? Carter is now engaged again — to the woman who acted as his divorce lawyer last year.
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