I’m not a stupid person, but I will admit to being too trusting. Despite having been victimized by a toxic narcissist and subsequently being guarded when meeting new people, I’m afraid that my natural inclination to accept people at face value is dangerous. I was not born suspicious, but some events in my rather colorful life have made me a bit of a skeptic, and that’s a good thing overall. And yet, as I have become more active on the net, I have let down my guard—and that is my fault. Here’s what happened recently:
I have been marketing my new ebook online, and one aspect of that includes developing profiles on such sites as LinkedIn and Google+. The reason, if not readily apparent, is that I must network and meet lots more people if I hope to make more sales for this and subsequent books. Well, duh! So simple, and yet, it just got complicated. Yesterday, I was adding links to my portfolios and tinkering with details with a view toward exposing my writing skills to potential readers. I got a note that someone had added me to his circle. Not recognizing the name, I went to his profile page and discovered an incredibly handsome, middle-aged man in a military uniform.
He said he was a General in the UN Peace-keeping unit in the Middle East, was divorced with two grown sons and was looking for someone special for friendship and whatever might develop. He was very flattering and engaging, saying all the right things and showing an interest in meeting me and so on. As I said, everything he said seemed legitimate, but… Some things he said, or didn’t say, and the way he expressed himself, all of those ‘little’ things began setting off teeny-tiny bells in my cerebellum.
He was respectful and interesting and interested, and I admit he charmed me…almost. Tiny hints of concern popped into my head as we texted back and forth as if we were on a first date. Such as:
He asked more than once if I lived alone or with someone.
He wondered why I was alone and if I had friends.
His answers to my questions were a bit vague, as were details of his activities. For example, when I asked what his plans were once he got out of the army, he said he wanted to be free and have family around him and be happy.
He did not follow up with comments or questions pertinent to things I said. He told me his son was at ‘a military academy’ and that struck me as odd since parents are always specific about that subject. When I mentioned that my father had been in the Battle of the Bulge and my brother had been in the Navy, he had no response other than ‘that’s interesting.’ Anyone I’ve known in the military would follow with comments or questions, but he made no such effort.
He claimed to be a career military man, yet he continually mentioned that he was ‘fighting for his resignation,’ rather than for his retirement.
When I asked questions about Youngstown, Ohio, his hometown, he evaded them, and his answers to questions about his college degrees were vague and odd (majors that sounded possible but questionable).
Finally, his phrasing bothered me—how he said what he said was just a little off somehow. That was the first thing that raised doubt. As a student of language and writing, I have a ‘feel’ for the way people say, and write, the language. It was subtle, but ultimately telling.
The above are a few instances that got my antennae quivering, but I fought those instincts because he seemed genuine, he looked fine, and I was intrigued. I thought about him and our conversation, hopeful as a schoolgirl. In the morning, though, I googled his name just to put to rest the suspicions that shouted down my trust. In the midst of links to articles about the King of Scotland and England and about a Confederate general, I found a handful of links that led me to sites dedicated to revealing the identities and aliases of known scammers. And there he was, with about 20 aliases, and using someone else’s name and someone else’s personal photographs. As I read half a dozen stories written by women fooled by this man, who scammed them out of money, cell phones, etc., I felt like screaming. I also felt like confronting the SOB and telling him what I thought of someone so low and so evil as to do this sort of thing to innocent victims. I wasn’t hurt; I was spitting mad!
But, instead of telling him off (and perhaps making him a better scammer), I blocked him when he contacted me again (just a few hours ago), and I deleted the circle into which he had inserted himself. No more Acquaintances for me. And no more Google Hangouts, either. What was so maddening to me was not his scamming, although that should be grounds for shooting him with a .38, it was the fact that I had not been on dating websites, desperately seeking out scum. I had been conducting what I thought was a professional marketing strategy to get my book into more
hands devices. Flibberty-gibbet! And I am stalked/scammed by some slimeball (or a group of them) from West Africa intent on stealing my time, money, whatever. Grr! Insert every filthy cuss word you can imagine! No wonder Emily Dickinson chose to be a hermit!
©2015 Linda L Labin, PhD (except images)