Avoid a predator — read “Dirty John”

 

trust-torn

By Caitlin Kelly

This is a must-read for any woman dating people she doesn’t know well or hasn’t met through people she completely trusts.

If she’s easily prone to being quickly wooed, beware!

It’s a new six-part series, and podcast, from the L.A. Times, by Christopher Gofford, and took more than a year to report.

It’s the true story of a multiply divorced California woman, a financially successful interior designer — desperately lonely — who was targeted by John Meehan, a con man.

It’s terrifying, compelling and an essential read to understand that:

— such men exist

— such men seek out victims and select them carefully

— such men groom their victims, love-bombing them with gifts and cards and “kindness”

— failing to ask why they’re so “kind” to someone they barely know is imprudent

— such men quickly insinuate themselves into their victims’ lives

— such men are sociopathic and vicious when exposed

— such men are professional liars and who, really, will others believe — them or you?

 

I know this because I’ve also been a victim of one.

 

In December 1997 I met a charming, handsome, intelligent man who — within a few weeks of meeting me — brought a pot of home-made soup to my door, bought me gifts and told me repeatedly how much he loved me.

He pretended to be a successful lawyer, a partner in a three-person downtown New York City law firm, complete with engraved stationery, business cards and other “evidence” of his false identity; in Chicago (where his exploits made front page of the Chicago Tribune) he’d posed as a doctor, using a business card with impressive initials that anyone who knows medicine would instantly know was fake.

He kept proposing marriage, sending dozens of emails and cards attesting to his immediate attraction and devotion, as did John Meehan, a standard MO for con men. (I found this weird and excessive, not romantic.)

It took me longer than it should have — (lonely and insecure = vulnerable) — to flee his clutches, at which point, like Meehan, he began threatening me and my family. Not with physical harm, as Meehan did, but in my case called my local district attorney to lie about me; as someone who lives in the U.S. as a resident alien (i.e. not a citizen) he knew this could make my solo life difficult. And knew, even irrationally, I feared that.

I was terrified by his screaming phone calls, and stayed at a friend’s home for a few days.

As did Meehan’s victim, I hired a detective, a former NYPD policeman, who quickly discovered and told me the sordid truth.

By that point, the guy had stolen and opened my mail, activated my new credit card and used it, forging my signature — all felonies.

The police and district attorney all laughed in my face. It was “only fraud” they said.

“No harm done,” they said.

Because “my” con man was careful to steal only a certain amount from each of his many victims, the banks didn’t care — it’s a cost of doing business to them.

Because the amounts were small enough, (typically $1,000 or less), the credit card companies also wouldn’t chase him and prosecute — and the costs of this fraud is built into our interest rates.

Because the women he victimized were so embarrassed and ashamed or police disbelieved them or DAs wouldn’t take on their cases, he was rarely arrested, prosecuted and convicted.

Because the women he chose to steal from should have known better, should have asked tougher questions, should have dumped him fast, their friends and family — like mine —  were furious at our stupidity and gullibility.

These men (and women!) lie for a living.

Like Meehan, the man I was victimized by is now dead. Thank God.

A book I highly recommend to every girl and woman is The Gift of Fear, written by a security expert, with a one page checklist of warning signs. It clearly explains how the way women are socialized to be “nice” and compliant can endanger us.

 

I urge everyone to read this series or listen to the podcast — and share it with women you know and care about.

 

It’s highly instructive and shows how to spot the warning signs of a similar predator.

If you recognize them, please flee, fast.

They’re out there.

Matchmaking Mom Launches New Site — Date My Single Kid

A heart-shaped Faberge picture frame with a po...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

This week marked the launch of DateMySingleKid.com, whose site offers a photo of its creator, Geri Brin, and her 31-year-old single son, Colby. He looks like a nice guy, cute.

Does he really need his Mom’s help?

From the National Post:

As the New York entrepreneur behind FabOverFifty. com, she decided to add a dating component to the website–not for her women readers, but for their sons and daughters. Unlike sites such as Lavalife or eHarmony, Date My Single Kid asks moms to upload photos of their adult children along with a brief profile; then, if another mom thinks she’s found a good match, she’ll send a message. “The goal is mom-to-mom communication,” Geri says. Date My Single Kid, which the Brins insist wasn’t created for the sole purpose of finding Colby’s future wife, went live on Tuesday. Within 48 hours, it had 200 profiles uploaded. Although many a thirtysomething guy would find it embarrassing to be set up on a date by his mother, the Brins think this system has its advantages. “Say you’re into gardening,” Colby says. “You might not think that’s cool or manly, so you leave that out; but your mom might mention it and it shows your sensitive side, and a girl might find that attractive.” Then again, mothers don’t always know best. “She casts a wider net than I maybe would,” Colby says about his mother’s broad search criteria. “Her main requirements are just age and gender.”

My family was always pretty laissez-faire when it came to my dating life. My parents, long divorced, were often far away, traveling or living many times zones distant. It wasn’t the sort of family that spent a lot of time vetting my beaux. (Might have helped.)

Only once did my Mom introduce me to a guy she’d met, an IBM salesman (yes) named Bob, from a small town in Saskatchewan. Bob had a closet filled with (yes) white shirts and dark suits and a BMW that (help me) he called his Beemer. (What can I say? It was a summer fling.) He was good-looking, smart, had a decent job. But, once we got past this approved exterior, there wasn’t a great fit. He did manage to piss off all my friends at a dinner party by calling them (accurately, but still) limousine liberals.

Has your Mom ever found you someone to date? How did it work out?

On-Line Dating Looks Easy. It's Not.

The On-Line Handbook
Image by Tom T .

Pick screen name. Write witty and alluring profile. Post 10-year-old photo of you thinner/with hair. “Forget” you’re married or have kids. Dating on-line is easy, right?

As if.

As someone who met her sweetie on-line, back when online dating was deeply declasse 10 years ago — while (of course) researching a story for a women’s magazine — I’ve seen the ugly reality of what guys on-line (and women) turn into when detached from the computer. All BS all the time. Luckily, I was pretty straightforward, then as now (“Catch Me If You Can” read my profile headline) and he wasn’t, thank God, a liar or married.

Bizarrely enough, we worked for the same paper, he staff, me freelance, and would never have met otherwise. So I’m a fan of on-line dating and its possibilities.

Here are six ways you can totally blow it. Read ’em and learn.