STORIES OF CONS, SCAMS AND RIPOFFS
Updated August 10, 1998
How do you go on after you realize you've been the victim of a con? Everything you said to them, you meant. It was heartfelt, deep and extremely emotional. Then you realize the truth. How do you go on to trust again? The writers of these stories, I hope, have begun the path to evolving past the tragedy by sharing their experiences with you.
August 04, 1998 - It all started a year ago when I got a response to a personal ad I had on American Singles. This man sounded wonderful and what any woman would be looking for. The only problem was that he was in CA and I was in WA, so at first I didn't think much of it as I was interested in someone locally. But when that fell through, I again picked up with "LP" in CA. He didn't say too much in ensuing emails, just gave me his pager number so I could reach him. Red Flag Number One: No home phone number!!
Our first phone call was truly amazing as he was the most charming man I had ever spoken to! He said the same about me and I think that was when I was hooked. He told me all sorts of things, about how he used to do work for the CIA and FBI doing undercover work and had had a band of criminals beat him up about 10 years ago so he was no longer doing that. He now had his own business helping people with foreclosure. He was reluctant to give me his real name, instead using LP all the time. Red Flag Number Two: Full real name needed! He was also vague about where he lived, but said he had property and had dual residency in NV and CA. Now wouldn't you take that to mean he had two homes, one in NV and one in CA? That's what I thought, oh how gullible I was. Red Flag Number Three: Home Address Required!
He got a motorhome and was going to drive it up to WA to meet me, but was having problems getting the cash and time to do that. So, nice me, suggested I fly down to meet him. So I flew down and my first gut instinct when I met him was "SLIMY". Why I didn't turn right around and get back on the plane I'll never know, but I think it was mostly because I had invested so much time in this relationship, I wanted to see where it went. Plus I think I was ready to get married again. We hit it off pretty well and I met his daughter and grandkids.
He wanted me to fly home, quit my job (which I was really tired of) and come back to CA to be with him. I just couldn't do that, not all alone with no support, and told him so. That was when we decided he would come back to WA to help me. Stupid me thought that I can't just bring this man home with me, not being married, so we made a side step to Reno and got married.
That was the beginning of my financial ruin. I never told him I had inherited some money from my father's estate, but he must have figured out I had something as I had a brand new car. Once we were married I didn't hide anything from him, and he could see what was in my bank accounts.
We were in WA together a total of 17 days and then we left after the police came to our door. They were worried about me and the police chief asked me "Did you know he's been in prison?" I said yes and it didn't bother me as LP had said he had been in prison doing undercover work. I thought that's what the chief meant. No that wasn't what he meant, but we were long gone by then, headed to CA. We finally ended up in KY because I think he was tried to show off for me and do something nice for his daughter by taking her and her kids back to KY to her husband. (guess who bankrolled the entire trip?) We were there a couple of months when my brain cleared and I started to pay attention to all the lies and deception. He would tell people he was Dr Smith and he would just as soon lie as tell the truth, it was truly amazing. I have never heard of anyone who could seem so normal, but lie like that. I later came to find out he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and my counselor described him as being a borderline sociopath, which is right on the money.
When he started denying things he had said, stating that I must have heard him wrong, I knew I was in trouble. Luckily he started acting out more then and I became more aware of behavior I would never tolerate, like yelling at clerks in stores and being beligerant to other people.
This was when I made plane reservations to fly home to see my kids, whom I missed intensely. I should also add here that he was using my credit cards free and easy, like there was no tomorrow. Whenever we talked about it though, he said he would pay me back when he got his business going again. He repeatedly told me he could work anywhere and could make $10,000 a month. Yeah, in his dreams he could! I started getting really concerned when my bank accounts were dwindling and my credit card bills were increasing, it was amazing how this man could shop. KY was rather boring in the winter, so our main entertainment was shopping at WalMart. Wow.
After I flew back to WA, all my friends and family sat on me and told me I had been brainwashed and he was a big lier and only out to use me. It was very very hard to swallow, as that would mean he never loved me or cared anything about me, just wanted to use me. But ya know, the truth is always the best. I tried to tell him I would be back soon, and at the same time was trying to get the police in KY to help me get my '98 4wheel drive car back and other personal belongings, but they screwed up, royal, and tipped him off and he took off in the motor home and went into hiding. That was the beginning of the end. I tried to keep him complacent, but in the end I said I just wanted my stuff back. He said I will give you your stuff back and pay you back, but I never heard from him again. The police say that since I bought the car while we were married, that I couldn't report it stolen. I have no idea where my car is and he's probably thrown away all my personal belongings by now.
I found out later he had been in prison, two times, for car theft, and other things like that. His daughter told me later on that she would never leave her children around him because he might molest them, and she told me about the truly horrible and terrifying childhood she had with him as her father. Luckily he was gone most of the time, but then she had to deal with her drug addict mother. She basically raised her brothers and sister by herself. This is truly a perfect example of a Dysfunctional Family! More than we could ever fathom or understand.
My divorce is almost final, thank God...and I am trying to pick up the pieces of my life. I am horrified I had such bad judgment and picked this man to be my mate. I used to be a trusting, naive, innocent woman, but never again. I will have to file bankruptcy as I could never pay back all the credit card and cell phone debt. It is way beyond my means. I have found a new job and am trying to get my life back together, but I feel so devastated. I doubt whether I will ever be able to trust a man again after what has happened to me, it will probably take years and years.
Wild's Comment - First of all, thank you for sending this. I know how hard it is to tell other people about something you did, especially when it resulted in such substantial financial loss. Personally, I can relate to the loss of the vehicle, though I did ultimately get mine back. I do believe that in time, hopefully a mercifully short time, you will trust enough again to want to meet someone. I know from my own experience, that even after suffering a devastating financial blow, or even making a mistake in marriage like this, there is life beyond the misery. Don't hate yourself too much, please know that what happened to you has happened before, almost exactly. And if it's any consolation, the one story I'm aware of, had a very happy ending. For those of you who think that incidents like this are extremely isolated, and rarely ever happen - think again. I don't pretend to understand the phenomenon of people meeting and marrying after just one meeting, but I know that it happens. I hope that anyone who is about to meet someone for the first time, or is wondering about what "could" happen, and so on, really reads these stories. You can learn a lot from the experiences of others. I am so very deeply appreciative and grateful to each and every contributor to this site. Wild.
I do believe that in time, hopefully a mercifully short time, you will trust enough again to want to meet someone. I know from my own experience, that even after suffering a devastating financial blow, or even making a mistake in marriage like this, there is life beyond the misery. Don't hate yourself too much, please know that what happened to you has happened before, almost exactly. And if it's any consolation, the one story I'm aware of, had a very happy ending.
For those of you who think that incidents like this are extremely isolated, and rarely ever happen - think again. I don't pretend to understand the phenomenon of people meeting and marrying after just one meeting, but I know that it happens. I hope that anyone who is about to meet someone for the first time, or is wondering about what "could" happen, and so on, really reads these stories. You can learn a lot from the experiences of others. I am so very deeply appreciative and grateful to each and every contributor to this site. Wild.
This story has prompted me to put up a facts page - just some basic information that many people should be aware of - as it pertains to property rights, etc., for people who end up in situations like this. If you want to read it, Go Here.
Guys, make damn sure you know what you are doing when dating off the internet. I have given up on the idea completely. I am a reasonably attractive guy with a good personality and do just fine on my own. It was something there for me to try, so I gave it a shot. I have since vowed to go it on my own.
"Internet babes" are not all they are cracked up to be.
June 22, 1998 - I was so hooked on my internet service at first. So many chat rooms, the instant messages, being able to talk to someone so far away sharing my deepest and most personal feelings with. My whole view on the net has now changed drastically. Two years ago I chatted with a guy in a "Southeastern chat room". Being a gal from Southern California, I wanted to hear a "cute" southern accent which isn't common where I live...so I asked a Texan if he would mind if I called him on the phone just for a few minutes so I could hear his voice. He agreed and so I called and we had a short, pleasant conversation on the phone. Several weeks later we would find each other on-line and chat for hours....either online or he'd call me or I'de call him on the phone. We had wonderful conversations. He seemed to be my "Mr. Right" and claimed that I was his "Ms. Right". Our chats online and on the phone continued for about a month, us falling more in love each day (or so I thought) until we no longer could stand the distance. By now our phone bills had reached astronomical levels.
We had sent letters and photos via snail mail and E-mail but we just had to meet in person. He decided he would fly to California to meet me.....so he did. We had the most amazing weekend together. He was all I could ever imagine wanting and vice versa. We were so in love. This guy hung the moon for me...I even lost my virginity to him! About a month after he had flown back to Texas he was laid off from work (or so he claimed) and had major finacial troubles. I was going to school and working only part-time so I couldn't really help him......but stupidly, decided I would anyhow. He continued on telling me how he was determined to move to be with me and how he loved me more than the air he breathed....etc. Finally the idiot I was decided I would wire him some money (which I took out of savings and small loans). The money I lent him added up to close to $2,000. By now it had been about three months since we had last seen each other and I was in the hole about two grand, not to mention in major stress from not seeing him and all the problems that arose with my family and friends because of him.
I was so in love and so sure that this guy was sincere with me that I believed every word out of his mouth. He finally told me over the phone that he didn't think "it was going to work". I had lost sleep, cried my eyes out, disobeyed my parents, and was now in financial distress myself and this guy who I thought meant the world to me is telling me "it's not going to work out, we should just end this". I was devastated.
Took me months to get over it. Well, to make a long story even longer, it's been two years and this scum of the earth still owes me the money and because we both live in different states it makes it ridiculously difficult to file a small claim against him. He has pretty much "vanished" and I have been left to learn a great lesson. ! And to think, was all this worth it just to hear some redneck's southern accent! Ugh! Every time I log on to the net I am reminded of how someone can easily fall for guys like this. Please, please be careful and learn from my mistake!
Wild's Reply - Expensive Lessons are the ones we can least afford, but the ones we will remember for the longest time. You may never get your money back - it depends entirely on how far you are willing to go to get it. Maybe it's easier to just decide that for $2,000 - you learned a valuable lesson - and by sharing your story here, you're passing your hard-earned lesson on to others. I commend you for that. Wild