Ex-BF Swindled Bergen County Realtor Out Of $71K: Lawsuit

Christina LaBarbiera remembers watching the hit Netflix show "Tinder Swindler" and thinking what happened to those women could never happen to her.

Christina LaBarbiera and Robert Harris.

Christina LaBarbiera and Robert Harris.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Christina LaBarbiera

Until it did, she says.

The show follows a group of women who say they met a man on the popular dating app Tinder, who swindled them out of millions of dollars collectively. And they want justice.

LaBarbiera, a 35-year-old realtor with Christie's International from Bergen County, says her story isn't all that different. 

UPDATE: Robert Harris was lodged in the Bergen County Jail on Monday, March 18, records show.

Last November, she filed a lawsuit against a 30-year-old man named Robert Harris, alleging he stole more than $71,000 from her soon after they matched on the dating app Hinge.

Now, she's sharing her tale in hopes other victims will come forward.

"You think what happened to the women on Netflix is never going to happen to me — how can someone fall for that?" LaBarbiera tells Daily Voice. "If he did it to me, he's doing it to a lot of other people."

Mahwah Police Capt. Guido Bussinelli told Daily Voice only that "there is a very active investigation and we’re doing the very best we can to assist the victim."

Harris told Daily Voice Monday morning, Feb. 19 that he "can issue attorney information." Daily Voice had not heard back as of press time.

LaBarbiera's suit, filed in Bergen County Superior Court, says Harris lied about why he needed money, having made “multiple false statements regarding why he needed to borrow funds from plaintiff. Defendant knew or believed said statements to be false.” 

The requests began sometime after LaBarbiera and Harris decided to move to Florida together in July 2023, the realtor said.

LaBarbiera tells Daily Voice that Harris created a sense of panic or urgency around every financial request, putting an extreme amount of pressure on her to give him what he needed, citing health problems and legal woes.

Harris asked for $5,000 more than once for AirBnb fees in Miami, LaBarbiera said. He asked her to spot him nearly $20,000 on a real estate networking event, the realtor said. Harris at one point requested $1,300 so he could take a client out for the night, according to LaBarbiera.

One day in September 2023, about an hour before LaBarbiera was set to meet Harris down in Florida, he sent her a text saying "Houston, we have a problem," LaBarbiera recalls.

She called and texted, no response. About 45 minutes later, Harris asked if she or anyone she knew had $12,000: He'd been pulled over in Boca Raton and allegedly needed bail money.

In the moment, LaBarbiera felt a ton of pressure to give Harris the money. She says that's always how it was. 

"It was hectic and they make it seem like an emergency, and you go into fight or flight and think you need to help out," she said.

LaBarbiera gave Harris the $12,000, and he vowed to pay her back. He said he was planning on coming to New Jersey the following week for an unrelated court appearance.

Long story short, LaBarbiera never saw Harris again, nor did she get her money back. She contacted an attorney and her local police department, who she felt were not doing enough to help her. 

As of press time, no charges had been filed against Harris in connection with the alleged thefts.

"If he did it to me, he's doing it to a lot of other people," LaBarbiera said. "I really thought I was uprooting my life and moving to Miami with this guy."

In hindsight, though, down more than $71,000, LaBarbiera says things couldn't be more clear.

"I thought I had met the love of my life," LaBarbiera said. "He was charming. He had no red flags as far as him being a scammer. He seemed seemed like an all-around good guy.

"You'd never guess he was essentially a thief."

LaBarbiera has also been speaking with founders of romance scam support groups.

"People don't understand what a victim goes through psychologically," she said. "And how we are spoken to, and prepped for this. The way he spoke to me, you never would've thought you're being conditioned. It's mental manipulation."

Ultimately, LaBarbiera says she's relieved she never has to see Harris again. 

"It's a constant battle. He's playing with your mind."

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