May 24, 2014 • By Dennis Beaver
Last time we told you about Hanford reader, Ted, just out of a 20-year marriage, lonely and looking for love on Plenty of Fish.com. Within minutes of logging on, he was contacted by Karen, also divorced, close to his age, and in Ted’s eyes, “very attractive.”
Karen was also a sociopath — a con artist — willing to do or say anything for the nice things that Ted’s money could buy.
“Anything? Is that what I think it means?” you might be wondering.
Within one week of their first meeting, Karen said, “Ted, we are meant for each other, and should be tested for sexually transmitted disease and see the results.”
Of course he couldn’t wait to comply, and was found disease-free.
“And her test results?” we asked. “Oh, she told me her results were perfect. But I didn’t see them. I trusted her,” was his response, and hearing that, the staff at You and the Law knew what would follow: a transfusion of sorts, a money transfusion, from Ted to Karen. Ted had latched on to not just your ordinary gold-digger.
As a man with a backbone of Jell-O, Ted was soon possessed by a vampire.
Thousands on dining out, home improvement, medical bills and Pismo Beach
Over the next several months, as Ted’s infatuation grew, he would pay thousands of dollars on restaurants, improvements to her house, medical bills and accept frequent requests to “spend the weekend at Pismo Beach,” the last time so that he could “properly propose on the beach.”
She selected and he paid for an expensive engagement ring and then, immediately after that trip, out to dinner once more they went, Karen handing Ted a document to sign which contained this sentence:
“The gift ring purchased is a love gift only, Karen may keep ring whether we marry or not. It is not an engagement ring.”
“She told me that if I did not sign the statement, we would break-up. I did not want to lose her and reluctantly signed. Within a few days she made my life a living hell, bickering about everything and finally texted this message: “It’s all over. If you contact me I will call the police.”
The con forgot one detail
When a gift is made on condition of some event happening — such as getting married — if there is no marriage, in almost all cases, the gift must be returned. Where fraud can be established, courts will always order return of the ring and often, punitive damages.
And that is where our charming, con-artist sealed her fate, for immediately before Ted was pressured to sign that statement, guess what Karen did?
“When the restaurant manager dropped by our table to say hi, she showed him the ring, saying that it was an engagement ring. He remembers that conversation, and will come to court to help me!”
We have encouraged our reader to file in Small Claims Court, seeking recovery of everything he paid for.
Of course, the real question boils down to, “How can the Teds of this world protect themselves?”
Perform your own due diligence
“The Internet allows you to perform a due diligence check,” advises Santa Maria based Private Investigator Riley Parker.
“Do they have a Facebook account? Is there public information that you can look at? Type their name in a search engine. 75 percent of people will be there. You learn a lot about them in the community, what they do, their friends, interests, where they vacation.
“Go to the courthouse and see if there are civil, family law, criminal law records and a domestic restraining order. Anyone can do this,” Parker stresses, adding, “But less than half of all California counties have this available to the general public.”
“A private investigator can legally find out an enormous amount about anyone for less than $100. Given a name and city, we can usually find the rest. With a good address, we can nail them down. Think of the protection this provides — that small amount of money to learn who you are really seeing. This is not being disloyal!
“You have a duty to protect yourself and your family!” Parker correctly maintains.
Taking on a fatherly tone of voice, he gave this sound advice with which we at You and the Law completely agree:
“You don’t want someone you meet on line who then climbs in bed with you and tells you what size ring she wears. And you don’t want someone you meet at the local bar.
“So, rely on your social network of friends, place of worship, mutual acquaintances and work colleagues. The safest way to meet good people, is through an introduction from someone you know, trust and cares.”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.