In Memory of Buddy - Karma Kicked his ass June 2007

We've stopped giving this award because Buddy won it hands-down every single year almost ten years running. The "The Buddy System" should serve as a warning to any person who thinks they've found love online. The Buddy System is easily the most heinous story we've ever heard.

She's The Worst! - First of all let me congratulate you on a excellent site. I have, for some time, thought about how I could communicate my story as a warning for others and you have created the perfect forum already!

I have read many of the stories which describe other people's experiences on your site. As many others have said in their letters, I thought "God, how I wish I had read this before!"

My story begins early in 1998, around January. At this point in time my situation was a little bit unstable (in particular emotionally), been seperated from my ex wife for about 1 year, my mum had taken her own life about 6 months prior, broke up with girlfriend of eight months just prior to Christmas and was starting to date a new girl (not via the net). The separation from my ex-wife, while extremely civilised and to a point amicable, was very very painful for me. My son was only 1.5 years old then, and the most adorable child one could imagine. Not being with him every day was the hardest thing I ever had to get used to. Hence, I was recovering from my seperation, but still very vulnerable, a little bit lonely and quite reclusive. I spent alot of time online in those days, just passing time in the evenings, looking for interesting stuff, and quite by accident came across ICQ and PowWow. I installed both and soon was hooked.

One night I was chatting to my best friend (who lives close by) and he pointed out a rather beatiful lady (judging by the picture) in one of the PowWow chat rooms (PowWow allows users to attach pictures to their profile, which can be viewed by anyone in the same chat room). She was 24 (according to profile, it later turned out she was about my age, 32), looked of European descent and lived in Malaysia, and she called herself LS. My friend started a chat with her. A day or two later my friend told me that she had told him that she is thinking of visiting Australia and he had offered to put her up while she was in Sydney. I was a little stunned as my friend is married and asked him how he thought this would work out. He told me some BS about renting an apartment, etc, etc. Now I have to mention that my friend tells many BS stories to everyone around him, so much in fact, that I am certain he has trouble seperating the truth from BS at times. Nonetheles, he has many other fine qualities (inlcuding standing by my side during the worst times of my separation).

By nature I'm a very honest, straight forward person and I tend to do 'the right thing' whenever its humanly possible. I was a little concerned about this girl getting sucked into coming to Australia on my friends invitation, so I started chatting to her to try and warn her that not everything she was told was true (eg. my friend told her he was divorced). I know this might sound a little back handed towards my friend, but all I wanted to archive is to avoid a disaster for L (and my friend, remembering he is married). Man do I wish I had stayed out of it...

L showed obvious appreciation about the warning and we started to chat more and more. As time went on, I felt she was just so perfect; she spoke several languages (including my native European tongue), she has had a terrible experience (truth unkown) in her life when her ex-husband was killed in a motorcycle accident, she had similar interests, etc. I was so excited. It really looked like a perfect match. After about two months of nightly online chatting, she asked me to call her on the phone (remember this is an international call from Australia to Malaysia, cost ranges between $0.5 and $1 US per minute), and she had the most beautiful voice. At that point I was gone hook, line and sinker. We spent anywhere up to 2hrs a day on the phone. My initial gut feel when she asked me to call her is to say "NO" and I told her that, but she talked me into it anyway. Important point here: Follow your instincts, they are often right!.

I did ask her for more photos, but she said she had none, as she destroyed most of them, because they reminded her too much of her late husband. I know what you are thinking... "RED FLAG", and yes, my gut feel again was that something wasn't right. I thought if I kept persisting (and I did) I would eventually get more pictures, but I never did.

Within a couple of months (this is about April / May 98 now), my phone bills overtook my income. I spent around US$10,000 to $15,000 on phone between April and August 98. Yes I know thats stupid, extremely and utterly stupid, but heck, I was so in love, I didn't care. L did ask me to originate most calls, as they were cheaper from my end than hers and promised to send me some money to help pay the bills. She worked as a resident manager at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, this also made it difficult as she had to use office phones, rather than a private line. She borrowed about US$3,000 from her dad which she sent me to pay my bill once, even though that was still substantially less than half the total bill which she promised to pay originally.

She liked me to talk to her dad at times when she was spending time with her parents and she also talked to my sister and friends at work. In retrospect this was part of her process of locking me into a relationship I could not get out of easily, knowing my personality would make it hard for me to break promises. She systematically got me to promise her marriage, children, lifestyle, etc. She was constructing her dream life. I was allowing myself to be steered blindly, so I must admit I am partially to blame for what eventually happened.

She liked to play mind games with me (I only realised this later). In particular, she liked to make me think that other men were after her. One time, she rang me in the middle of night, sounding very upset, and told me one of the guests at the hotel was trying to force her into a date (for dinner). He supposedly worked for one of their biggest clients who rent multiple rooms on a long term basis. He apparently threatened to pull all the business from the hotel unless she went out with him. I told her to report this incident to her boss immediately, which she reluctanly did (well... who knows), claiming she may still be blamed for loosing the business. Her boss aparantly resolved the situation. From that point onward she started to claim that her boss was starting to chase her, giving her expensive presents, etc. I got very jealous, her game worked! In retrospect, it was most likely and almost definately all made up.

I sent her a lot of pictures of myself and my son (as she claimed to really like kids) and even made a video of where I live, my apartment and myself. Despite all this and many more requests, I still didn't have any more pictures of L. In April 98 I made a pre-booking on a flight to Malaysia (as a surprise), to visit her for a long weekend. She was shocked and not happy at all. This surprised me and I started probing. She made up a story about how it may endanger her position at work, her boss being after her and all. I cancelled the flight.

By about May 98 we started to make plans to see each other again. We planned she would visit Australia in August to co-incide with my birthday. At this point I made the most fatal mistake of this whole episode.

As we were both close to broke due the phone bills, I offered L a supplementary Gold American Express card on my account to pay her air travel with. She accepted and used it to buy her ticket. No problem so far.

Just before she came to visit (about 2 weeks), she started to hint that she may have put on a few pounds since that picture I had of her was taken. At that point, I was so in love, I felt I really didn't care what she looked like. I just wanted to be with her. When the day came, I waited for her at the airport. I have never been so excited in my life. I had a huge bunch of roses for her. As I had no new pictures of her I was hoping I would recognise her. I was shaking.

I did not recognise her. She recognised me though (she had real pictures of me of course). Man what a shock, she was huge (extremely fat), and she didn't look anything like the picture I had (I am convinced the picture was not of her, at any point in her life). Now I know this would sound very shallow, especially to some of the larger ladies that might read this, but I was lead to believe something which just wasn't true. As Wild points out quite regularly, people have expectations and criteria for their partners. If these aren't matched, no matter how hard you try, a relationship will eventually fail. This applies to all areas, not just weight, but is one of the more obvious (ie. in your face).

I was in total shock. I still felt love for this woman, alot of it, at first. I know myself well enough however, to realise that this wasn't going to work. She wasn't who she claimed she was and she had lied to me right from the start. Her personality too was nothing like on the phone or in online chat. She used to be so bubbly, smart and lively, whereas in real life she was quiet, very shy and appeared to be behaviourally disturbed.

Lets think about this; I will have to introduce this woman to my parents, friends, collegues. I'll admit it, I felt embarressed. Everyone I knew was expecting the girl in the (one) photo I had. I knew everyone would think I was a total idiot (and I was) when they saw her in real life (and they did!). I stuck to my principles and went through the agonizing meetings with friends and family. L started to promise she would loose weight. After a week and a half, I told her I could not go through with this and that she should return to Malaysia on the earliest possible flight.

She was devastated, as expected. She tried everything to change my mind, telling me she had quit her job to be with me, etc. At this point she voluntarily returned the AMEX card to me, which I placed in a secure place (I thought) in my study. She departed. I felt some relief, even though I felt awful for having to turn her away and for not being with my 'dream' girl. But the nightmare was far from over.

About two days later I realise the AMEX card L had returned to me had vanished. I called her in the evening and she told me had taken it back as a 'souvenir' and whether I mind if she kept it. I said 'NO you can't ' and asked her to cut it in half. She agreed. As it was late at night and for some reason I believed she would do as she promised (stupid I know), I left the call to cancel the card till the next morning. When I talked to the AMEX operator to cancel the card, I also asked him to confirm that no transactions had been made (which he did) and that no more transactions could be made in the future with the card (which he also did). I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but the horror was only just about to start.

About three weeks later I get a call from American Exress asking me whether I would be paying my statement on time (ie. it was due, but not overly late). I felt this was a bit unusual so I enquired why I was being called. The operator explained that it was a bit more than usual and they wanted to make sure it got paid on time. The balance was over US$7,000! It appeared after some investigation by AMEX and myself that L had spent this money between the evening I talked to her and the morning when I cancelled the card. AMEX said that I would have to honor this even though I had cancelled the card and the transactions weren't reported to me at the time of cancellation, some BS about processing delays... But it got worse, a couple of weeks later I was told a further US$45,000 (yes, thats fourty-five thousand dollars) had been charged by L. I asked how this could happen after the card had been cancelled for several weeks and was told that as long as she held the card she could use it. I told them they would hear from my solicitor, thats all the BS I could handle.

I didn't know where to turn. I went out and found myself a solicitor who, by a stroke of luck had a bit of experience with dealing with AMEX. He sent them a letter which literally stopped them in their tracks. They took a step back and reduced their demand from me to the original $7k spent prior to the cancellation and further that they would endeavour to recover the $7k from L first. I gave them all the contact info I had. The last I heard about 6 months ago was that she had left her old job and that they couldn't find her. So I still have the $7k hanging over my head.

As you can imagine, that sort of turned me off the internet chat scene for a while and I returned to a more normal life. About 2 months ago, I loaded up the old chat software to have a look around and to my great surprise I found L online with the same picture she had used previously and was sucking guys in by the truck load. I managed to warn some of them, with limited success, they didn't want to believe me.

I met a wonderful lady (NOT online), who I've been with since January this year (99). I do think that some people can be lucky with finding partners on the internet (please note that this was never an objective I had, it just happened, which also made me more vulnerable, as I had not thought about possible pitfalls and consequences, prior to the experience), but I concur with Wild by saying that it is a long shot.

Also keep in mind when reading other letters on this site that in a lot of cases relationships started on the net will fail due to common reasons; eg. looks, personality, family / ethnic background, etc. Hence, the reason alot of these fail is not due to fact that they started on the net. However, in most of the same cases these relationships would never have started without the net in the first place!

A few hints from my point of view; If you really want to do the internet relationship thing.... expect the worst and you will never be dissappointed.

Chatting with people all over the world is really cool and I'm all for it. If you start getting attracted to someone, meet them in person as soon as possible if you can. If you can't, don't get too attached. Long distance relationships will invaribly get expensive, painful and will make you a recluse.

Trust your instincts; if it looks bad, smells bad, it probably is.

Use common sense; eg. a model type of beauty will not be using the internet to find a partner.

Don't give anyone any money. If you feel you really really want to or have to, only give as much as you are willing to loose without a return. Never ever give anyone full access to your account or credit card(s).

Don't pin your dreams, hopes, feelings, etc on someone you have never met in person. You have a 99% chance of failing miserably.

So Wild.... do I make letter of the year?

"The Buddy System" - What do you do when you're an aging alcoholic who uses and sells recreational drugs, has no ambition and no job, is facing foreclosure and the disconnection of all utilities, owes everybody money, has the title to his car in hock at some auto title pawn shop, and relies on using people to keep himself afloat? You go online.

One night, in a chatroom I had been at for a very long time, a stranger came. He was having so much trouble with this chat program that he finally convinced me to call him and try to help him out. What follows is the story of a con. He conned me out of thousands. I lost my home, I lost everything. I do own my responsibility, it was stupid to trust somebody based only on what they told me. It was stupid to wear my heart on my sleeve. It was beyond stupid to allow myself to believe the lines of shit I got from him over and over, and it was utter insanity to marry this loser.

What can I say? I was a sucker for a stray? He sounded helpless, and in time, managed to convince me that I had known him some time ago. It sounded possible, we had travelled in the same circles and knew a lot of the same people (we had both been involved in the music industry in the '70s). Anyhow, one thing lead to another, and after a few weeks, I went to South Florida from California to visit him. He had a daughter close to my daughter's age

"Buddy" presented himself as a successful restaurant entrepreneur, he was currently managing a Ska band (Pork Pie Tribe), or so he said, he had a nice house, a nice car and convinced me that he could offer us an idyllic situation for myself and my daughter. I was gullible, I know I was vulnerable, and thanks to a fair weather friend who had me convinced that my life was in danger due to a judgment I had gotten against a drug-addict attorney many years ago, Buddy talked me into relocating to Florida and becoming his wife. I don't know what I was thinking. I obviously wasn't thinking. Buddy suggested marriage. He did have a nice home, his daughter was delightful, he seemed like he would be good with my daughter, the situation seemed exactly as he made it sound. And I walked right into it. When the justice of the peace asked "Do you..." I said "I guess". I knew I was making a horrible mistake but that was the story of my life and so I just let it happen. STUPID STUPID STUPID!

I returned to California to begin to pack and make arrangements to relocate to South Florida in the next few weeks. Buddy was going to fly out later to help me. I was too busy to give much thought to what I had done, but I had the awful creepy nagging feeling that I had messed up. Part of me was content to believe that it didn't happen at all. I told almost no one what I had done, I was ashamed of myself yet I made arrangements to move. I had recently come into sold a property and had some money. I paid off my car, made a sizeable payment on the balance of another car loan, and used the remainder of the money to move. Buddy flew to CA to help me pack. He met some of my friends, and then we began the long drive to South Florida. Things still seemed fine. Until we got there, that is.

Buddy changed almost immediately. He began to get threatening calls from an apparent drug dealer who was owed a lot of money the first day I arrived. I was stunned and scared. I realized my worst fears were about to be realized. Buddy's sobriety which he indicated had been going on for some time also ended immediately. He began drinking a huge bottle of Vodka a day, starting early in the morning. Actually, I don't know if a bottle that size is considered a bottle. I ran the numbers, a 75ml bottle of Stoli equals 2.34375 quarts. That's how Buddy started his day.

He screamed at my daughter incessantly and blamed her for everything that was wrong, while placing his own daughter that he had part time on a pedestal. To make matters worse, he had no "restaurant" business, just some stupid idea for a website directory of restaurants in his area. His home was in foreclosure, all of his bills were past due. That's when I had an epifany; I only ever meant one thing and one thing only to Buddy, - MONEY!

It didn't take long for the end to come screaming into my face. We fought constantly and even on the days Buddy's daughter was at the house, Buddy was out - every night. Drinking in the early a.m., conducting his disgusting drug business from the house I lived in with my daughter. I was constantly in fear that he would piss someone off or do something else to get us killed.

He told his friends that my car was a gift I had given to him! Ultimately, I told him I had no more money. At that point, he stopped even bothering to be cordial to me or my daughter. He sold his own car, after borrowing money from me to get the title out of hock, tossed me a few hundred dollars to make up for what I'd spent on his electric bill which was about to be turned off, and spent the rest paying off loans, drinking the rest.

He told his friends that I had taken all of the proceeds from the sale of his car from him (like that could ever even be possible) and had absconded to CA with it. Oh, those were the friends who's loans he didn't pay back from the sale of the car.

Buddy got me good. Talked me out of $500 for some electrical work on the house to upgrade it for my computer, he gave it to his "electrician friend" who promptly never showed up to do the work. Seems he actually owed this dude the $$ and when I went to the police, he even sold out his friend he owed the money to, telling the police this friend of his ripped me off. What a guy.

How did it end? Less than sixty days after we got to South Florida, we left. The night before I left, Buddy slept at somebody else's house but promised to be home early to help me leave. The morning we were leaving, and lemme tell you Buddy scared the shit outta me at this point, he never showed up. Left to my own devices, my daughter and I loaded up and pulled out, taking out his water main and part of his fence in the process (hey, it's not easy pulling a horse trailer through a residential fence gate!). As we were turning out of the driveway, Buddy showed up screaming, cussing, drunk and horrid. To his credit, he had a friend drive him.

We drove back across country, $40 whole dollars to our name and a credit card, and somehow my daughter and I made it. Pulling a trailer with two dogs and all of the belongings I could stuff into it across country, in some of the worst weather imagineable, the two of us made it. Good friends and my daughter's own incredible wit and sense of humor kept me going during the drive back, and soon we were back and safe.

The divorce happened with money from a relative because Buddy couldn't even kick in his half of the $200 filing fee. I am now married to the most wonderful man in the world - who I met on the net - and we are expecting a child in May '99 (It's a boy!).

There is so much more I could go on about Buddy, the lies, the deceit, the treachery, but this has been long enough. The point is don't ever do anything that feels even a little bit wrong. Trust your instincts and really get to know someone before you do anything. If they tell you they work someplace, call them there and check! Don't believe everything you hear, people can be extremely convincing liars.

The thing that really got to me, was what Buddy's friends and family said to me after I left. I kept in touch with them briefly, and what they told me got to me the most. They all said they were sorry it had happened, but it had happened before and it wasn't unexpected!

They were more sorry for him and his continued failures than they were for my situation! When I asked them why, if it had happened before, they didn't try to warn me? "Because we hoped that this time, it would be different, that he would change".

So, a word to all of you well meaning friends and family of awful people who have no business taking up space on this planet: If you see an innocent, naive, gullible person about to be hurt, conned, destroyed, etc., ESPECIALLY if there is a child involved - TELL THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! You can't stop the self-destructive piece of shit friend or relative from doing what he's so good at doing, but you can prevent innocent people from being victimized.

Regarding "Jim"...
Your page should be required reading for anyone even THINKING of meeting an online lover in real life! Hopefully, a lot of people will be helped by what is contained in these pages.

Before I send my own little story, something that everyone should know: You think that your situation is different, that none of this could ever happen to you. WRONG. All of this and worse could happen to you!!

I've been chatting online for a little over three years, and have met hundreds of people. One common thing of those who have met others in real life is: "Don't base the rest of your life on a week or two" .....meaning, don't spend a week or two with your online lover, then move in with them and/or get married. That little time isn't enough to know anything. This is true. I am another of the statistics which are here to prove it.

Though my story is long and more than a bit sordid, I'll give the abriged version. In January of 1997 I met a man - Jim - in an online chatroom. We seemingly had everything in common, and after only a month of spending all of our free time together, we decided to meet. The airline tickets were purchased, and the time was set for that May.

Time passed slowly, and the time finally came. We met in a beautiful little town nestled in the Rocky Mountains, and spent a blissful week together. He was a perfect gentleman, very attentive and affectionate. Our time together seemed to affirm everything we were to each other on the net, and we decided that we would make things more permanent. I returned home and gave notice at work, then told my family that I was leaving. One thing that Jim insisted on was that I get divorced from my husband upon arrival at his (Jim's) house. But, only a week before leaving, he phoned to insist that all happen BEFORE I left. This was impossible, since the divorce proceedings could take up to a year - so he said that a legal separation would be acceptable (God, shouldn't this have been a great clue for me to run???). I did what he requested, packed my car, and left my family.

After three days of travel, I arrived on the east coast. Jim had taken a few days off from work to help me get settled, and show me the city. I re-vamped my resume and began searching for a job. Then, things began to change. No longer was Jim the gentle, affectionate, loving man he was when we'd first met. He became suspicious, accusatory. He listened to my phone conversations, snooped through all of my personal things. He told me that I'd lied to him the entire time we'd been together, that I'd set out to "screw him over" from the beginning.

Though he'd portrayed himself as being a fun-loving, adventurous person online.....all that he wanted to do was come home from work and sit in his recliner, reading the paper. He rarely wanted to go out and do anything. As I ran up my credit cards on food, restaurants, clothing, fuel, bills.....he made it sound as though he was paying for everything. After only nearly three weeks, one night, we had a huge fight, and I began packing my things. Half of me thought that he would - and I wanted him to - stop me. Half of me just wanted all of this to be over. That night as I tried to discuss my leaving with him, he fell asleep in the middle of the conversation, and sealed the fate of our relationship. The next morning I left for home, among accusations that I did indeed "screw him over", that I hurt him, that it was all my fault, that he should never have trusted me......etc.

When I arrived home, I called all the companies which I had debt with, and changed my address - again. However, it was late in the billing cycle, and those which had already been sent to his home needed to be paid. I sent $200 to Jim - he promised to pay the minimum due on everything. Next I know, I'm getting late charges and collection calls....he had taken the money and spent it on himself. He said that I "owed him for all that he'd done for me". After all the money I'd spent on travel expenses, phone calls, gifts - going into the thousands of dollars, he steals $200 from me? But in retrospect, he was always overly obsessed with money.

After getting a little bit settled back at home, Jim wanted again to have a relationship with me. He played all of these head games with me, saying that our love was true and that he couldn't be without me. He even contacted my husband and was exceptionally cruel to him. I couldn't stand it any longer, and told Jim to get the hell out of my life forever.

Well, it's been over a year since I left Jim, and still, every so often, he contacts me. Though he's met someone else from online and I've seen him doing some of the same to her - I also know that she's a lot like him, and hopefully they'll keep it between the two of them and not mess with anyone esle's lives. not trust anyone like I did him. I'm sure there are a lot of good people out there, but Jim was only a good player...and in the end, just a mentally ill thief with no concience. He thought that he had every right in the world to lie and betray....and as he did so - with absolutely no concience - anyone who didn't conform to his sick way of thinking was wrong.

I am a survivor....but pray that no one else has to go through the hell that I did - and at the price of financial ruin, and nearly losing my family. Be careful. Know with whom you're dealing BEFORE making any permanent decisions. Listen to your instincts.