I’m almost 57 years old. During my time, I’ve been lied to many times. Some of these times are bigger than others, to the point that they become a scam.
My earliest memory of a lie like this was when I was 16 years old. My exhaust pipe had fallen loose and was dragging. I was far from home, had very little money, and wasn’t anywhere near a payphone.
Some guy is walking by and asks if I need help. I tell him that I do. He asks if I have a coat hanger in my car, and I do. He uses that to hold the pipe up. He then asks for a ride into town, so I agree.
He then asks if I wanted get some beer. I say that’s a good idea, so he tells me to go to a bar. Then he asks me for money. I give him my last $20. He goes into the bar.
I wait outside. And wait. And wait. Eventually, I go inside and ask the bartender. He says, “Yea, that guy walked in here, went straight to the back, and right out the back exit.
I had gotten scammed. Looking back, I consider myself fortunate that it was only $20, and that he didn’t try to kill me and take my car.
HUMANS AS FRIENDS
After this, there were people who would pretend to be my friend to get what they wanted. I always fell for it. Every time. Oddly enough, these were the least of my worries when it came to dishonest people.
There were bigger fish who would show up in my life. My ex-wife lied and pretended to love me for a few years, before dropping the mask and taking me hostage. It went from, “I love you, please buy me a purse,” all the way down to, “Look, I want that purse and you’re going to give me the money, or else I will call 911 and tell them that you hit me.”
Yea, things can go there.
THE BIG SHARKS
The biggest scams that I experienced were in 2013-2014, when a “friend” of 3 years on Facebook came to me, crying that she had cancer, no insurance, no money, and no support. [The other “friend” wanted me to help him build a recording studio.]
She cried and begged for her life. Then, much like it was with my ex-wife, the script got flipped and the abuse started.
Nine months and $40,000 later, she had to flat-out tell me it was a scam, because I wasn’t getting it.
And while this was going on, the friend I’d had since 2009, with whom I was building a recording studio, decided to rip me off, change the locks, declare that I contributed nothing, and sold off my gear for profit.
He spread lies to all of my friends on Facebook, AND THEY BELIEVED HIM OVER ME! He did this so that he could rip me off in plain sight, and everyone would turn to me and tell me that I had it coming for being a piece of shit.
This dual scammer debacle set me back $50,000 and almost a decade of my life.
MOST DIFFICULT OF ALL
One might think the money part of these scams was the most difficult. Wrong! At the time, both Catherine and I had jobs that paid very, very well. $10,000 of that money I had sent to the cancer scammer was money I acquired via LOANS against my car and retirement. I paid those loans off in less than two months.
The most difficult part in all of this, in situations like this, is ACCEPTING THAT I GOT SCAMMED because I was wrong.
For many people, as it turns out, admitting that you were wrong can be a VERY painful process. In the case of a “friend” who is “dying of cancer,” accepting the fact that I was wrong, and that I got scammed, came with a real sense of physical pain.
There were red flags along the way, after I was well on the hook. The reason why this dragged out for so long was because I knew how painful it would be to admit that I was fooled and taken for a ride.
And I was willing to do ANYTHING to avoid facing that pain; that reality.
FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENED
Both of those scams destroyed me. Here we are, 7 years later, and I’m still dealing with the emotional and psychological fall-out. Hell, she DIED 2.5 years ago, and is still having an impact on my life. And the studio scammer is still living his good life as a Malignant Narcissist.
I had to find out what happened, and why this happened to me consistently throughout my life. So I went to a therapist under the idea that I might very well be stupid. Just flat-out STUPID. I mean, who falls for a scam like this, other than stupid people, right?
I went into under the assumption that my premise of stupidity was the correct diagnosis, and I was there just for confirmation. Why do I fall for people who pretend to be my friends? Why do I fall for women who claim to love me? Why do employers take advantage of me? Why do people in general abuse me?
GETTING SOME ANSWERS
It felt like I had a BIG NEON SIGN over my head that said, “Hey, everyone! Stupid guy here! He’s gullible! Come on over and take whatever you want. He’s an easy mark.”
Testing confirmed that I was and am not stupid. The thing with stupid people is that they’re not smart enough to know that they’re stupid. And stupid people are VERY confident in themselves and never question it. The fact that I was questioning all of this was one point toward my “not stupid” diagnosis.
Even more important, my testing showed that I have Level 1 Autism. This used to be called “High-Functioning Autism,” but that term has been deemed to be ableist. To me, it’s very inaccurate, because I am NOT ALWAYS high-functioning. It really depends on the situation, the people, the dynamic, the expectations, and my mental well-being at the time.
In other words, there are too many factors to say that I’m “high-functioning.”
There were a few things that tipped off the therapist and prompted him to want to test me. He noted my complaint that “the world feels like it is running under two sets of rules: one set of rules for everyone else, and a SPECIAL set of rules just for me.” Those rules involve special treatment, which was usually on the NEGATIVE side.
For example, if someone ELSE makes a mistake at work, it’s a “teachable moment,” and they can laugh about it with their boss as they discuss it. But when I make a mistake, I will be given plenty of time to think about that mistake in the unemployment line.
I am not allowed to make mistakes, or to enjoy “teachable moments.” I am expected BY OTHERS to be perfect AT ALL TIMES.
IT WASN’T STUPIDITY
As it turns out, my Autism has kept me frozen in an emotional state, where I am 16 years old. That’s how old I was when that first guy took me for $20.
With every experience, it was almost as if I had learned nothing. At least, that’s the outsider perspective. For me, I would write off each individual instance as THE PERSONAL OR MORAL FAILING OF THAT SPECIFIC PERSON IN PARTICULAR. I didn’t think it fair to consider certain groups of people to be a certain way.
IT HAPPENED AGAIN
The last time I got taken was in late 2019, when I had gotten in touch with a former girlfriend from 1982. Her name is Angela [she goes by Annie], and we had met when I was 17 years old. Given the fact that I’m still emotionally in that ballpark, it was highly invigorating to re-ignite this old flame.
I was living with my girlfriend of 20 years at the time. Her name is Catherine. We’d been struggling and suffering since 2014, when we first learned that we were getting scammed. Yes, she got taken, too, and is in a position very similar to me.
We didn’t know why we were struggling, but would find out soon enough that it was a case of us never having been a romantic couple, ever. This can be a true source of discord, especially when one person wants a romantic and sexual relationship and the other does not. At the time I was the one in need, and Catherine wasn’t really on board with any of it.
As I was re-connecting with Annie, the distance between Catherine and me would continue to grow. We were obviously going through what I called a “slow break-up.” It was happening in slow motion.
Annie invited herself to move in with us on Christmas 2019. By April 2020, the pandemic was in full-swing and Catherine packed up and moved to Rhode Island, some 3,000 miles away.
Catherine contacted both of us in July, asking if she could move back to Oregon. WE BOTH gave her permission, and she moved back to stay with us temporarily in August 2020.
Annie began to act weird. She was not eating and lost weight at an alarming rate. She was eating candy out of a shirt pocket in the closet. She accused both Catherine and me of “fucking with her meds.”
One night, Catherine was making us all pork chops for dinner. She felt the pressure, since we all acknowledged that Annie is a good cook. Catherine slightly burned the pork chops, so she was frantically trying to scrape off the burned parts.
Annie and I decided to go for a walk to leave her alone with her stress. Annie said, “Well, that settles it. Catherine is trying to fucking poison me. She’s putting plastic on the silverware.”
To this day, I have no idea what this means.
Annie had some mental breakdowns that unfortunately required a few instances where police were involved. Then, on October 8, 2020 at around 8:30 am, she just walked out and never came back.
That was roughly one year ago, this week.
It would take lots of time, therapy, and discussion to figure out just what happened.
AS THE STORY GOES
There were a variety of problems. I could write for hours with guesses on what happened, or why. The best and most brief explanation is possibly the most likely.
I want to avoid getting into her past or talking about her in a way that sounds like I’m going through sour grapes, or seeking some kind of revenge.
Basically, she was in her fifth marriage for 16 years. There was neglect and other things going on, according to her, and I won’t get too deeply into that, either.
She wanted OUT of that marriage, and she used me so that she could make a clean escape. She bought a one-way ticket, took $5,000 from his checking account, and flew out. I wasn’t too happy with the theft of the money; however, if the situation was true, then she was entitled to it.
Then she did the same to me. She cleaned out the checking account, walked away, and never came back.
Basically, she took advantage of me so that she could get out of her situation.
HOW I FELT ABOUT THAT
At the time, she had been exhibiting signs of psychological and emotional distress. I attempted to help her, and spent many sleepless nights trying to help her and wondering if she was okay.
But as I think through specific events, it is clear that I cannot tell if she was actually having psychological issues, or if she was faking it to get out of her situation with me.
So far as I can tell, it was merely a case of her having ill intent from the beginning.
BIG RED FLAGS
There were several big red flags for me. A few of them included the fact that she had been married five times. She also had half a dozen Facebook profiles, because she thought that Facebook accounts were device-specific.
I explained this to her, and she still does not understand it, and believes she deleted all of the emails from her MOBILE Gmail, but that they still somehow exist on her LAPTOP Gmail.
There were many other pre-move red flags, but I’ll list just a few more. It was before she moved here. We were on the phone, and we were talking about something unimportant, like our favorite pizza. It was something so unimportant that I don’t know what it was about.
So consider she said that she likes pizza with everything, and I said, “That’s fine, although I don’t like onions all that much.”
This is very mild disagreement, which is not allowed with people like her, and I’ll explain that more in a minute.
After I said that I didn’t like onions, she became distressed and cried out, “Don’t hit me!” I could feel her recoil over the phone. I think it was a genuine reaction. Of course, I told her that we are 1,000 miles apart, and my arm isn’t that long.
There were so many red flags. Why did I ignore them?
Because I really, truly, deeply wanted things to work out between us. I’d been lacking in physical, sexual love from Catherine for 20 years, and I had only started to realize this AFTER we got scammed in 2014.
It was human desperation.
I wanted things to work so much between Annie and me that I was willing to ignore or write off just about anything and everything. And that’s precisely what I did.
A FEW PHILOSOPHICAL RED FLAGS
Before Annie moved out, I decided to do some research online about her. This was how I found out that she had five Facebook accounts. But I also found a few other things.
One of the things I had found was posts of her promoting a church that she attended. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a lifelong Atheist. So I casually asked her if she still attended church regularly.
She replied that she only attended church to make others around her happy, and that she didn’t really believe in god. This is a very plausible explanation, so I accepted her at face value.
Later, I found that she was a Donald Trump supporter. Everyone who knows me understands that I cannot support ANY Republican, and can barely support Democrats.
She replied, ironically, that she “didn’t really know much about Trump,” and that she voted for him because that’s how her husband voted. Again, a plausible explanation, so I accepted it.
When the pandemic got into full swing, Annie’s lies became fully apparent. She was a Christian Trump voter who LIED to me about it, saying that she was NOT a Christian Trump supporter.
As it turns out, she lied to me about EVERYTHING about her! She would learn about me and what I like, and she then molded her self-story to fit me and my preferences.
I was getting on her about taking the pandemic seriously, and I’d get on her case every time she would ignore the danger, whether it was hugging a stranger or inviting someone over. In looking back, she put me in a great deal of risk and harm’s way. That’s NOT what someone who “loves” you does!
It didn’t take me very long to figure out that she was telling me what she believed I wanted to hear.
She was also interested in us “being the same” in many ways. For example, when I showed her a song that I had written, she told me that she was a songwriter, too.
When I talked about my stand-up comedy stint in 2011, she said, “I’m a stand-up comedian, too. See how much we have in common?” This was when I confronted her and told her that she can’t just keep telling me that she’s the exact same thing as me.
To be fair, she got run over and dragged by a car when she was 3.5 years old. She reminded me of this EVERY SINGLE DAY, as this event is part of her personality. We could be watching a movie, and she’ll blurt out, “My brother raped me,” and then go back to acting like she never said it.
There could be some brain damage, but it’s hard to say since I’m not a neurologist. In that regard, Annie is not a psychiatrist, and she still decided to pathologize me by saying that I was having “separation issues” after Catherine moved out, which is not true.
A MESSAGE TO TRUMP VOTERS [1 of 3]
That’s enough of a preamble for this message. Maybe Annie will see it. I hope so.
Trump is scamming them, and I see it as being no different from the people who scammed me in the past.
In particular, I remember the cancer scammer taking me for a ride, and everyone on Facebook telling me that she was scamming me. Whenever they’d ‘say that, I would double down on my support efforts, and I’d ACTIVE DEFEND HER.
When I see Trump voters defending him, I see the resemblance and comparison between that and how I defended the cancer scammer while she was in the middle of wiping me out.
And I know what it’s like to want to avoid the truth. When someone is getting scammed, admitting that you’re wrong comes with a great deal of psychological fear, as well as ACTUAL physical pain.
Yes, it actually HURTS when you admit that you were wrong. And you KNOW it will hurt when you admit that you’re wrong. So you double down.
And now, you’re in a place where a self-declared billionaire, who said that he was NEVER ask for money because, as he put it, “I’m really rich,” is demanding that you donate to him to show your loyalty, and he takes the money EVERY MONTH without warning you that it’s a monthly commitment.
Much like me, you’re losing money, you double down, you defend your abuser, and you view people like me who are trying to help you as liars and monsters.
It’s a terrifying and very convincing place to be. You are CERTAIN that he wouldn’t lie to you. Right?
If you cannot see the scam, then I will point it out to you in some obvious ways.
- He says he’s a billionaire, but is fighting to keep his taxes from being released.
- He says he is very smart and was a good student, but has also threatened his school with a lawsuit if they release his grades.
- He said Mexico would pay for the wall, and then had supporters on GoFundMe working to raise money so they could keep this lie alive for their own emotional purposes.
- He said, “I’m very rich,” and that he’d never ask for money, and he’s been asking for money for almost a year.
- He said that Hillary Clinton is evil, and yet he’s donated to her campaign efforts at least twice.
- He says that Democrats are trying to destroy the country, when he’s voted Democrat his entire life, up until his political run.
- He says that he’s smarter than everyone else, and then speaks in a way that indicates he is utterly lacking in intelligence. He’s crafty, and good at scamming like a used car salesman, but not intelligent.
- He says that “people are saying” or “I’ve heard” before he spouts a lie, and nobody voting for him questions WHO is saying.
- He accuses people of things, and does not provide any evidence.
- He claims to be a Christian as he mispronounces “Second Corinthians” [a book in the bible noted as “2 Corinthians” as “TWO Corinthians.” He never goes to church, is all about “grab ’em by the pussy,” has a filthy mouth, is admittedly and obviously GREEDY, and is EVERYTHING that Christianity is supposed to be against, and in return for this he was made the new Messiah, as a replacement to Jesus Christ.
- He politicized a deadly virus during a pandemic for his own personal, political, and financial gain.
- When he ran, he said that he would pay the legal fees and bills of ANYONE who got arrested while beating up a perceived enemy. How much money have the people who enaged in the 1/6 attacks received as help? NOTHING. HE LIED WHEN HE SAID HE WOULD HELP YOU.
That’s just a start. There is no end and no limits to what he will say or do to get what he wants.
Does any of this sound familiar? FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE, I’ve had people tell me what they think I want to hear, so they can get what they want.
ANOTHER MESSAGE FOR TRUMP VOTERS [2 of 3]
Right now, as you are being scammed, you are angry, indignant, and defensive. You feel attacked.
I know what this feels like, as I did the same thing when my cancer scammer was in the middle of taking me for a big ride.
Other people told me that she was scamming me, and I’d get very upset with them. I’d ask them to prove it. They’d tell me about her past as a drug addict, and I’d respond that this was the past and she’s beyond it.
For every single thing they’d say, I would come up with an excuse to defend my cancer scammer. Everything they told me, so far as I was concerned was a lie. One could call it “fake news.” If it didn’t fit the narrative of me rescuing a dear friend from death by cancer, then I didn’t want to hear about it.
It’s what you’re doing RIGHT NOW. And my pointing this out is going to make you VERY angry. You feel angry as you’re reading what I am writing right now.
I get it. I was like you, but with people in my life and not a rich celebrity, probably because I don’t worship the wealthy OR celebrities, but that’s a difference between us. In spite of this difference, it’s otherwise the same thing. The only difference is that I believed that I had a real friendship with these people, while you are engaged in a parasocial relationship with a rich celebrity.
It’s where you are right now, and it’s a hard place to be.
WHAT IS A PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIP?
A parasocial relationship is basically a one-way relationship. We can find these all over the place, with people who are really into a certain celebrity. There are subscribers who donate to content creators on Twitch, YouTube, and other platforms, and they donate money while pretend that person loves them or appreciates them.
Meanwhile, the OTHER person — the celebrity — has ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that the other person even exists, while that other person believes in a special bond that exists between then.
It’s complex, sometimes creepy, and always concerning.
MY FINAL MESSAGE TO TRUMP VOTERS [3 of 3]
This is very important, so I want you to think back to my story about the cancer scammer, how I crashed after finding out it was a scam, and how I felt about myself after I realized I had been scammed.
Specifically, I felt very, very stupid.
I went and got tested, and stupidity was NOT the problem. My IQ is on the upper end of the spectrum, placing me in a somewhat unique category. My intelligence HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME BEING SCAMMED.
So what left me open? My Autism did play a role, but it was something bigger and more general.
It was emotional manipulation.
I was emotionally manipulated by the cancer scammer. She cried and begged for her life. Her mother thanked me for helping her.
The same with the studio scammer. He played into my emotions about getting older and transitioning from a performer to a producer. He would talk about us having a successful business together.
All of this was VERY DEEP emotional manipulation.
As a Trump voter, you find yourself in a situation. You’ve been TOLD that Democrats are evil, which is a lie. You’ve been told that Democrats want to destroy the country, which is a lie.
You’ve been told that the border is wide open [a lie], that 1,000,000 undocumented people are crossing daily [a lie], and that they are being bussed all over the country [a lie], and you are NOT given a motive as to WHY this would be happening.
You are told that the press is “the enemy of the people,” which is a lie. I’d not trust them all the time. But what he said is not true.
These are but a few examples of the roughly estimated 30,573 lies that he’s told over his 4 years in office.
Every lie affects you.
With every lie, you ended up feeling more angry, more afraid, more defensive, more attacked, and more desperate. And some of you got desperate enough that you tried to overthrow the United States government on 1/6/21. And you called yourselves “patriots” while you did the most unpatriotic thing that anyone could do.
When someone lies to you, it twists your brain in a way where you end up lying to yourself.
MY FINAL HOPE
I do have a final hope of sorts for people. I hope that those who are scamming others find something resembling punishment for their crimes.
I hope that Annie can find the strength to face the reality of the world and come to terms with herself.
I hope that Trump voters can find a way to see what is being done to them. Again, it looks EXACTLY THE SAME as the times when I have gotten scammed.
IN THE END
So, where are we right now, as of October 20, 2021?
I haven’t talked with Annie for almost a year. At this point, I have accepted the fact that I will probably never talk to her again, and that this might be a good thing. I hope that she can get her life together, but I have my doubts.
Catherine and I DID NOT go back to being a couple. We are still very dear friends, and we’ve had an overall major positive impact on each other’s lives. We still live in the same apartment but have separate bedrooms. We are kind, caring, and compassionate with each other.
We are working through our problems, and coming to an educated and non-emotional determination on the status of our relationship. Chances are good that we will be happy with being “dear friends” who truly care about each other’s well-being.
Catherine and I were NEVER a romantic couple, and that’s the realization and silver lining that came from the “Annie Incident.”
She had a positive impact on my life and will always be important to me, even if we decide to move on. Having a friend who has got your back is very valuable in today’s society.
As for me, my mental health has improved greatly over the past year. Anyone who has been reading can tell in the way that I write. My older writings tend to sound more depressing and desperate.
The thing I’m not certain about is whether or not I’ll ever be “single and ready to mingle.” I’m tired of the emotional games that hairless primates engage in when they want to rut like pigs.
If things don’t work out between Catherine and me, then I can accept that. Worst case, I still have an amazing friend in my corner, and I’ll be in hers.
As it turns out, my Autism diagnosis has helped me. Knowing of my Autism, how it impacts me, and how it is perceived by others, really goes a long way toward my being able to more efficiently and effectively defend myself from abuse and exploitation.
Being taken for a ride by a scammer is probably the darkest and most destructive thing that anyone can experience. I felt attacked by those who were trying to help me. I felt angry with people who didn’t understand my point of view. I would get aggressive with anyone who went after those who were scamming me. Anyone who wasn’t on my side was my enemy.
I get it.
And I hope that one day, Trump voters can get it, too. The promise of “owning the libs” gets them nothing. My hope is that they can get past this and start demanding ACTUAL, VISIBLE AND FUNCTIONAL RESULTS from the people who get their votes.
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