He’s just a scammer, not a sociopath! You know…. a catfish con artist. Other than that, he’s a nice guy? Right?
Yup- that’s what the police officer told one recent victim when she described her harrowing run-in with the heartless con artist who defrauded her of sex, love and assets. I’ll call her Kaitlin.
Kaitlin met her Romeo, Kenneth, at work. He was the technologist that her company hired to keep their computers running smoothly. He worked for an outsourced vendor, not directly for her employer. He had big dreams for a software he was developing for her company’s industry.
He’d moved to town after a recent divorce and was the proud father of a son who was a star little leaguer and a little girl who loved to dance. He displayed their photos on his desk and visited them “back home” every other weekend.
Kaitlin had a little four year old son. Her husband had perished in a job-related accident and she received a substantial pay-out from insurance. When she ran into a technology problem at work, she contacted the company’s “help desk.” Kenneth responded.
Off to the races!
Kenneth seemed infatuated from the start. He asked her to lunch and continued his pursuit with daily texts, drops by her desk, and romantic evenings. He offered to help her with the problems she was experiencing on her home computer and hit it off with her little boy, Troy, from the get-go.
Their romance continued over several months. He seemed the perfect fatherly-type and Kaitlin began seeing their relationship as a permanent fix to the hole that existed in their lives. She was overwhelmed when Ken proposed marriage after a ten month relationship.
She’d wanted to meet his children but their mother had become difficult to deal with when she learned of their relationship. Ken explained his inability to put them all together as her being “the jealous type who’d take things out on the kids.” Since they were separated by a long distance, he felt he had very little influence and it was best to leave things as they were…. his family in one state and their romance, their own private business, in another. He was intent on building a new life with her and hoped that once they were married, his ex would soften her opposition.
The finances of relationships
When Ken explained the financial needs of his budding business, Kaitlin was excited to help. They were building a future together. She was confident in his ability and had no reason to question his trustworthiness. She provided him a $10,000 start-up loan.
The following weekend, Kaitlin and Ken were invited to the wedding of a business colleague. Ken was travelling to visit his children and was to meet Kaitlin at the affair. He never arrived. By the time she returned home, she was frantic over his welfare. She called the police, indicating the make and model of his car and the route he was likely to take. They had no reports of accidents and nothing to indicate he’d been involved in a mishap of any sort. Her calls to Kenneth went directly to voicemail and there were no responses to her texts.
The police tried to locate Ken by tracing down his ex-wife. They found no one by the name he’d given to Kaitlin in the town where Ken said she lived.
On Monday, Kaitlin stopped by at Ken’s desk. The man sitting there was new and had just arrived. The children’s photos and any other remnants of Kenneth were gone. She hurried to the HR department of her company and learned that Ken and the other tech staff were rotated to various clients as his company needed. Ken had requested another assignment and was transferred. She’d have to speak to his employer to get any further information. Kaitlin had been totally “ghosted.”
The Human Resource department for his company was resistant to helping. But through some creative sleuthing, Kaitlin found another phone number for Ken. The woman she spoke to, Brenda, informed her that Ken had never been married, and that they were, in fact, engaged. She also said that Ken had no children but that he had a niece and nephew who met the descriptions Kaitlin gave her. She insisted that Kaitlin “must be confused.”
Kenneth’s visits to Brenda neatly fit into his pattern of fabricated paternal responsibility. But even with the knowledge that Kaitlin had been in the wings when he was away, Kenneth convinced Brenda that Kaitlin was just a jealous woman at work who “had it in” for him because he’d rejected her in favor of pursuing their relationship instead.
Kenneth blocked all communication with Kaitlin. She was unable to text him to demand repayment of the money she’d given him as a result of his fraud. She had no idea how to reach him directly. Brenda, also, turned her a deaf ear, blocking her emails and phone calls.
An attempt to seek justice
Kaitlin, again, contacted the police. She called the officer she originally spoke to when Ken disappeared. He told her that she was “lucky to get the creep out of her hair,” and to chalk up her losses to “education.” “You just can’t take people at face value,” said the officer who refused to file her complaint. “You weren’t physically harmed,” he said, completely ignoring how the emotional toll impacted her self esteem and how totally defiled she felt as a result of Kenneth’s behavior. “What proof do you have that he was supposed to repay you the money or that he won’t do so some time in the future?”
“Look,” said the cop,” he’s a scammer, but didn’t you have something to do with it? You had a great time with him, didn’t you? If he wasn’t nice to you, you wouldn’t have thought about marrying him, so he can’t be all that bad.”
Kaitlin had seen the show, Catfish on TV. “He’s a sociopath! If he’d met me through online dating, he’d be a catfish, right?” she asked.
“Yeah, but there are no laws to prevent catfish from harming people, so it doesn’t matter. Go home and get on with your life,” he recommended.
Even her ring was a sham
Kaitlin took her engagement ring to a jeweler and found that it was a cubic zirconia, not a diamond. She was told that the purchase value was likely to be around $150. She hopes Brenda will read or learn of this story and follow suit. She’s haunted by the fact that despite her best efforts to inform her, Brenda continues to be fooled by a scam artist.
She now realizes that she thwarted Ken’s attempt to get the ring back from her before his disappearance. It was slightly large for her and he offered to take it back to the jeweler he bought it from to get it reduced. They’d stopped at another jewelry store to get her finger sized before he left to “see the kids.” Over Kens protest, she decided to wait “til after the weekend because she’d wanted to wear it to the wedding they were attending, despite that it was a bit too large for her.
She was debating whether to keep it as a reminder of how careful she needs to be in the future, or throw it in the river. Afraid that a real catfish might choke on it, she decided to hang onto it to remember how sociopaths work. It’s a lesson she never wants to relive!