On The Rocks
Added August 04, 1998

So, you didn't really know each other that well. At least not as well as you thought you did. In fact - by the "normal" standards of society, you didn't know each other at all. And that's where you run into trouble. The intricacies of the internet have created situations for which there just aren't any laws. But there are other things you can do to protect yourself from losing bigtime.

Don't expect police and law enforcement agencies to be sympathetic, though they certainly may start out that way. It won't last. Not once they hear how you "met". Uh uh. Expect to become the subject of their micro-scrutiny as they imply that whatever you got, you deserved. Do they have an obligation to enforce the law? Of course they do! Are there laws in place to protect you, your property and your rights? You bet. Do they apply? Ah.. they "should". But, police have no idea where to begin. How do you define a relationship between two lovers who have really no idea who the other is? They ultimately take up the old song they enjoyed singing in the '70s, before Battered Wives vs. L.A.P.D. came along. When they could deal with Domestic matters as being "civil" and brush you off to some attorney. How convenient, how nice for them.

In a nutshell, here are some things you should know:

  • Separate Property - is property that belonged to you before you met, before you married, you got during marriage by gift, devise or bequest, or acquired after the date of separation.

  • Con Artist - Someone who seeks to deprive you of your separate property, whether by marriage, acquiring it through fraud, lies, deception, trickery.

  • District Attorney - The agent of the local law enforcement office who is sworn to uphold the laws of the State in which you reside and, specifically, to step in when asked to do so to investigate the nature of criminal activities to determine the extent of the criminal activities.

  • Criminal Activities - One who, with full knowledge that the statements and representations he/she is making are absolutely false, and with deliberate and malicious intent to deprive you of your money and belongings and injure you financially, entices one to marry or otherwise enrich them, of the assets and savings of another. One who comes into the possession of the personal property of another, through lies, deceit, deception, trickery.

  • Con Artist - Someone who acquires the "confidence" of another person, by lies, deliberate misrepresentation, trickery, deceit, and then seeks to take from them their money, possessions, savings, livelihood.

  • Detective - A law enforcement officer sworn to uphold the laws of the municipality which he serves, and specifically designated as an investigative specialist, especially as it relates to "Fraud, vice, bunko, con artists".

If you have met someone, given them gifts, money, credit cards, etc., based on representations they made to you, which you believed, and upon which you acted - to their advantage and benefit and to your financial detriment - YOU HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF FRAUD.

Whether or not you met at a bar, church or on the internet should not matter to any law enforcement agency you contact. Once you discover you have been defrauded, and that this person singled you out to defraud, you have been the victim of a crime.

Civil Fraud generally involves written contracts or enticements between strangers. However, domestic fraud - specifically, one who goes around taking what he can from lonely people who are romantically inclined, have generally been designated criminally liable.

Discuss all of this with your local law enforcement agency first. Give them the chance to do the right thing rather than pass the buck to someone else. Most of us can't afford what a lawyer would charge, nor should we have to. Write to your congressman, write to everyone you can think of. Involve the district attorney and, lastly, Alert the Media!. They thrive on stories like this and as horrid as it may be to have to tell a total stranger what happened to you, as humiliating, embarassing or dehumanizing an experience it may seem - you must do it. It is the only chance you have of getting your belongings - and your dignity back.

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