Yesterday I had a conversation with a woman who was married to a con artist for over 5 years and she didn’t know it. The man she met online, had married her representing himself as a “hedge fund manager.” She helped him entertain clients who invested in his company. He also had a business partner, someone who had known him for over 10 years. That business partner was also conned and lost a great deal of money. It turned out that everything about the man other than these two very real people was a sham. Every word out of his mouth was spoken as part of some pathological lie. The man is without doubt a sociopath/psychopath and con artist.
In the aftermath of being taken both personally and financially everyone who knew this con artist is asking why and how. It is in the spirit of these questions that I recommend to you a book, Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, Scams, Frauds. How con artists will steal your savings and inheritance through telemarketing fraud, investment schemes and consumer scams. The book is written by Les Henderson a salesman and successful businessman who studied frauds and scams for 5 years before writing this book.
There are three aspects to this book that make it a resource for all victims of sociopaths. First, it provides a good list of the typical “occupations” that sociopaths work as con artists. In that regard it describes how con artists do what they do. If you are wondering whether someone is a sociopath AND that person happens to work one of these occupations, you can stop wondering and start assuming.
The book briefly discusses victim psychology. It is not only the wives and family members of sociopathic con artists who suffer trauma. The victims of the sociopath’s financial fraud also suffer trauma that can be severe and lead to suicide. Henderson says, “Fraud crime is a personal violation. Although there is no serious physical injury many victims of con-men speak of the betrayal as the psychological equivalent of rape.” If you have been the victim of fraud, we invite you to share your story and get support here.
Lastly but importantly, the book points out in many places that con artists use other people who become their unsuspecting accomplices. People who are used by con artists in this way carry that burden for life. Henderson says, “Family members and business associates may have been financially exploited at your urging, resulting in increased feelings of guilt and blame.” Recently, I spoke with a young man who had been used in this way by a con artist. It is his goal to pay back those who by his recommendation, lost money in the fraud, to the tune of $300,000.00. So far he has earned a third of that, and has saved other victims from foreclosure by helping them financially. I gathered from our conversation that the young man stayed sane with his goal of restoring his friends/ family and helping other victims. As Henderson says, “The dread becomes immeasurable, unrelated to specifics, just an all encompassing blanket of depression.” We have all felt that.
NPR is discussing con artists today- A criminal is a criminal but a con man is an artist?