BE AWARE | At least two Dallas gay men have been scammed by a man identified as Michael Bellah of Burleson. This is a photo of Bellah, taken from his Facebook page, and both men confirmed that this a photo of the man who scammed money from them.
Robert Blake is a divorced dad who’s retired from the Air Force and lives in Cedar Hill.
He met Michael Bellah on Grindr. Bellah claimed to also be a divorced dad who served a short time in the Air Force.
“We chatted for a while and eventually we met and had dinner,” Blake said.
Blake said Bellah was running late for their dinner date. He didn’t arrive until 10:30 p.m., claiming he had a flat tire. They went out to dinner anyway, and during the meal, Bellah told Blake he had gotten the tires he needed but had to come up with $100 by the next day to pay the tire store manager.
He also told Blake how school was starting soon and he had to give his ex-wife money for school supplies. To top it all off, Bellah said, he was short on cash because payroll at his company was “messed up.”
“I paid for dinner,” Blake said.
Still, Blake said, he and Bellah hit it off because they had things in common. Bellah told him he had served in the Air Force a short time before he got a medical discharge.
“Being a divorced gay dad that lost everything when I came out, I knew what it was like to struggle to make ends meet,” Blake said. “I felt sorry for him, and gave him a check for $250 as a loan.”
Blake said he felt compassion for someone in that position because he’d been there.
“This was also a bad life lesson that I learned the hard way,” he said.
Blake said he called Bellah a number of times to ask about a follow-up date and to ask when he could get his money back. But Bellah always had an excuse why he couldn’t meet Blake.
One evening, Blake was having dinner with his friend John* from church. “We started talking and I told him about my situation with
Michael,” Blake said. “When I told him he lives in Burleson, he said, ‘Oh. Interesting.’”
Then John added, “I met him on Scruff about a year and a half ago.”
John said Bellah told him that his children were having medical issues. He asked John to do a Facebook fundraiser for him.
“I got six friends to donate a total of about $300,” John said, adding that he should have gotten a clue when Bellah refused to put the fundraiser on his own Facebook page.
John was in the middle of moving to Dallas. After he was settled, they connected again. And again Bellah asked for money: “I know you’re tight because you’ve unemployed. But can you loan me money?” John recalled Bellah saying.
He said they had been dating for about a month when he told another friend about Bellah. John said that friend said, “Please tell me you didn’t give him money.”
But John had. He gave Bellah a check for $275.
John asked Bellah about this other friend who warned him.
“That’s when problems started,” he said.
He said he called a number of times about getting the loan repaid but Bellah just got angry at him and said he shouldn’t have given him the money if he couldn’t afford it. Then Bellah stopped answering John’s calls.
He said he signed into Scruff on another friend’s account. Soon after they started talking, Bellah was at it again.
“I was getting the sob story again about the sick kids,” he said.
According to Blake, others have been scammed as well.
“I have another friend that lived in south Arlington that Michael approached and asked for $500,” Blake said. “My friend is a little brash and told him to f-off.”
Dallas Voice contacted Bellah through Facebook, asking him to comment for this story. In a Facebook message, Bellah said he was “not discussing my personal business with someone I do not know. If you would like to present facts of these allegations I will be happy to discuss them with you.”
Even though he was provided with the Dallas Voice phone number and said he would be in contact with the Voice reporter, as of press deadline Thursday, Dec. 4, Bellah had not contacted Dallas Voice further.
*Editor’s note: The man identified as John asked that his full name not be used to protect his identity.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 5, 2014.