Last night I watched the new Netflix documentary ‘The Tinder Swindler’ with a mixture of fascination and horror. Fascination because it’s a first-class production about romance fraud at its very worst and most scary, and a sobering lesson to us all – you MUST see it. Horror, because it brought back dark memories of my own encounter 25 years ago now with a confidence trickster that cost me £120,000 in today’s money, trashed my nascent business, and came close to breaking me emotionally and financially. I wrote about this scam on my blog a couple of years ago now, at ‘The con that nearly did for me’, please do read it, I hope it might reinforce the messages from the Netflix production.
The most upsetting part of my ordeal last night (for ordeal it was to watch) was the description by each victim of that moment when the awful truth dawned on them, the realisation that the whole thing was a pack of lies, that they’d lost everything, and that their trust had been so totally and cruelly betrayed. I recall that moment as if it was yesterday. It’s not easy to bear my soul like this, but if it helps just one other person from avoiding having to experience that gut-wrenching, blood-draining, other-worldly pitch into a whirlpool of desolation and disbelief then it’s worth it.
I’m over it now. At first, I blamed myself for being stupid, reckless, irrational and a dozen other things. I felt I’d let everyone down. But in truth, I was just being human – trusting, kind, loyal – values we all cherish in ourselves and others. Perhaps worst of all, though, and as I say in my blog, “… I don’t think it was necessarily about the money, I think he just enjoyed the game and the power it gave him over others. He was the cat to my mouse, playing with me.” That is what left me feeling so abused.
Take care out there, everyone. It’s a cruel world. Sharks abound.
P.S. not all my stories on the SASIG website are so depressing – some I hope will cheer you up. My favourite is ‘The day I nearly started World War Three’…
Comment on this blog here
Read more of Martin's Log
Thank you for reading my blogs. I’m getting quite old now, and hopefully I’m a little wiser than I once was. I have enjoyed a fascinating career full of fascinating people, and made many great friendships. I’ve made huge errors in my lifetime, and enjoyed great success too – it’s been the ultimate game of snakes and ladders - up and down, round and round. It is my privilege to share some of my stories with you, and describe some of the lessons I’ve learned in the hope that it may both save you from falling into the same holes, and help you in your careers and lives. Good luck and good fortune.