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Share a time when your trust was broken and how it affected you.

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"Victims like me not only accept our fraudster’s fantasy world, sometimes we even help build it, because we don’t want to know the truth. We become co-conspirators in defrauding ourselves." Fascinating.

This story is not mine, but I thought of it with your closing lines. Sofija Stefanovic tells an unforgettable story at The Moth about her relationship with a scammer (who she knew, from the outset, was a scammer): https://themoth.org/stories/the-scammer-who-loved-me-not

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Thank you David, I loved reading this story :)

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I've recently become aware of a 'within family' fraud. Not affecting me financially but the shattering of trust(s) is truly explosive.

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Indeed. I've always tried to explain to younger people that experience is something you don't think you need until you have some. And, of course, the essence of experience is the pain that comes with facing adversity. The question is what happens next...

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He was a family friend, a financial advisor who had taken care of my mother's money. I was her caretaker and interpreter, so I knew him well. When she died, I inherited her money. He helped me with her estate. We paid off her debts. He was emotionally supportive to me, got me a good lawyer to help me through everything. Then he helped himself to the money.

I was a divorcee of a number of years, single mom of two, and pregnant with my third. I have always lived on the poverty line, and I wanted to be wise with this money. So I entrusted it to him to invest... because he was a family friend, and wasn't he here always there for us, especially during this time of grief?

Were there signs? Yes. I see them now. But I was not able to read them then. And I knew zero about investing or what would be realistic dividends or interest. I bought what he told me, "a unique investing opportunity with high returns!”

He knew my mother. He knew my dreams. He knew how I wanted to be of service through my music to others in pain, and take care of my family. He said he’d help me do that.

He stole it. All of it. I asked to liquidate "my assets", after a couple bounced checks. He was like, sure, no problem. But like you, all I got was a long string of excuses, and fake assurances. And I performed so many mental gymnastics to keep my hopes that everything would be okay.

Plus, he was my friend. He looked me in the eye. You don’t think the worst about your friends, right?

After getting continuously put off, and one angry voice message from him, I called again, and said this call wasn't about the money, anymore, but that I was worried about him. We were friends. Please talk to me. I'm here for you.

But he was gone. My boyfriend, at the time, went to his house. It was empty. Long story short, I called the firm where I supposedly had some kind of account. They said they couldn't give me any information. I told them my story. I said I didn't want specifics, just if they even knew who I was... or he was. A manager got on the phone and said he was so sorry, but they couldn't even tell me that. After I hung up, they evidently froze all his accounts, and reported him to the SEC.

I went to the police right after I found out he was no longer living in his house (turns out it was foreclosed). I filed a report of theft. The first thing they asked me was did I have a sexual relationship with this guy. I was like WTF? No, I did not.

Anyway, I guess cut off from his finances, he turned himself in when the detective called. He was arrested. Lost his license. Went to jail for theft for maybe a year and a half. Seems he did the same to a recent widow. Ordered to pay restitution. The widow had money for lawyers. I did not. He stole a big chunk of change from her. He wiped me out.

I received restitution in VERY small amounts. I figured I would have to live to like 150 years old if I received that amount every month. After his probation was over, his payments stopped.

The loss of money was devastating. What was supposed to be my leg up out of poverty for myself and my children, was erased. With the exception of a few checks he sent that first year, I never saw the money, just fake numbers on fake reports.

The shame ran deep. I felt so stupid. I blamed myself for years, and evidently, I needed to talk about it, because here I am writing a comment as long as a post! It's never just the money they steal. It's never just the money… which by itself, would be bad enough. They steal so much more, don’t they?

Here it is 26 years later, and it still hurts. Not the first hard betrayal. My father was. But it's the first where I was money scammed.

I’m sorry you got betrayed in this way, David, but I want to thank you for sharing your experience. I know it wasn’t easy. And thank you for creating the space to let me bring to light--to myself--what needed a bit more healing within me, that I didn't know still needed healing. I appreciate you.

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What I like so much about this story, David, is that it shows that even highly intelligent people can be defrauded. I worked for many years in cybersecurity and one of our big emphases was on identifying attempts to defraud ... and some of the hardest people to convince were those at the top of the corporate stack. They believed they were too smart, too savvy, to be fooled. They weren’t and aren’t. When I was with MediaPRO, we did a series of videos that had people in cybersecurity (like me) interview their parents about times they had been defrauded. We were trying to help aging people be aware of the need to be skeptical. Here’s the video I made with my mom: https://youtu.be/MyNG92Vk3No?si=WgjL1VctlcXdlNYg (and I kick myself over my failure in this little drama to this day).

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A great story and cautionary tale, expertly told. As you suggest, we can learn so much from moments like this. But that doesn't stop it hurting!

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I don't have financial fraud but definitely relationship fraud. And the hardest part does seem to be accepting that you let yourself be fooled. I built relationships, some very close, at the company I worked for for 11 years. I "invested" in people, and believed they really had my back. Until they didn't.

I sometimes still mentally explore where my assessment skills (or lack of) went astray. What did I miss? My ego takes comfort knowing even smart people get fooled. But as I build a new network outside that fraudulent one, as I sheepishly "launch" my next career chapter and feel hesitant, embarrassed, and untrusting to promote/reintroduce myself to that network, it remains front of mine how it all fell apart.

I'm hyper aware and untrusting of my own "attention to detail" and "good judge of character" skills. The injury may eventually heal but the scar remains.

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On a lighter note, I am proud a Sabres hockey fan who describes the 1999 Dallas Stars Stanley Cup championship as fraud. The skate was in the crease. #NoGoal

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Oct 28, 2023Liked by david roberts

Great piece. Wrenching to read.

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My new husband and I bought a tiny house instead of a diamond ring for me (1979). We put money down. House was owned by a friend of a friend. We paid him directly for months. When hub's Dad was deathly ill in PA. We put the house on the market. We had a really good buyer lined up to buy for enough to pay off our original amount and enough equity so we could put a down on a rent to buy place we found in PA. I was 6 months pregnant when we moved. The day after we had our 1st son, the friend of a friend said he got the money for the house and decided to keep the equity too. claimed we never made payments. I had the cancelled checks but I was in the hospital and my husband's new job sent him out of town for a month. The house we wanted to buy was sold to someone else and we became renters. I never forgave that guy. he came to our wedding reception. We were admittedly naive about buying a house but that made us targets. Our mutual friend lost his shirt on the house he bought from the same guy. Unfortunately this was not the first nor the last time I was duped by people in many ways until I realized that some people are lying liars and toxic. I was in my mid 30's when I finally woke up and did some major housecleaning of the baddies. I am 70 now, husband died 5.5 yrs ago. I am an immovable brick wall when it comes to people trying to take advantage. I am not immune to them totally, but I am able to find them out and cut them out. I was raised to believe that everyone has a good side. I had to wake up to the fact that some folk do not give a flying F about me, my sons, my life or anyone but themselves.

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Oct 28, 2023Liked by david roberts

I too was scammed for a significant amount of money about 10 years ago. I felt violated and angry. However, over time, I've come full circle back to believing that most people are inherently good and honest. Desperation breeds dishonesty. The experience made me tougher and more risk-averse. A lesson learned to stay within my lanes of knowledge and expertise.

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Broken trust? My parents lying to me, their narcissism and divorce. As a result, I would break up with boyfriends before my heart could be broken. I also dreamed of one day having a loving marriage and functional family. After years of therapy my dream won. PS I’ve been married 32 years, kids are grown and flown and we are a close family. No more heartbreaks. Thx for sharing your story.

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David I so appreciate this piece!

“It’s a terrible thing when a mind turns against itself. No mind can ever be more skilled than one’s own at inflicting mental anguish.”

My mind is capable of thinking such darkness about myself - such doubt and uncertainty. “Of course you’d do something that dumb.” Turning that volume down is a challenge and a lifelong journey, I imagine.

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It's a continual fraud for me, the loss of faith and trust in institutions. A couple of years ago, we finally sold our house in California. The backstory is a saga of faith lost in itself, but I will spare the details. The joy, however, of finally unloading that house and its inherent burdens was cause for celebration for all concerned. It also came at a time when prices were high and we scored enough to pay off a lifetime of debt, and have a sizable chunk left to hold for our retirement. Finally, we had a nest egg, a hard-won, heavy sweat-equity boon. Enter the tax man and poof. It's gone as is my Social Security, which has been so piddly, it's a fraud itself. My husband tells me that when the next year's tax is filed, my SS will be restored because that house sale was a one-time payout after our decades of investment in that home. I will believe it when I see it.

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It happened to me a couple of times, and both times the deals were set up by friends, who eventually claimed they’d been equally chumped. I wasn’t sure that wasn’t true. All I knew was that I felt like an idiot for trusting. It is a fact that some in business are cold and calculating. Money trumps morals. It’s sad and it hurt. The healing came when I was finally able to forgive them and myself. It took awhile. I consider those broken promises now as valuable lessons. Trust but verify. And you still might get fucked.

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