Monday, April 6, 2015

Scammed

A few years ago, I stumbled on a blog by an author to whom I felt immediate kinship. He, too, was a teacher. He had a family. His best friend died from cancer. He and his wife adopted this friend's little daughter and raised her as their own. This little daughter is now a teenager. She is extremely talented. She was being stalked by one of the school's janitors. He also wrote about how his brother awakened one morning to find that his eight-year-old daughter had died throughout the night, etc. etc. etc.

I became a loyal follower of my new friend's (Jeff) blog. He and I commented back and forth on each other's blogs. We shared e-mails, stories, photos, and discussions about God, life after this one, how to heal from suffering, and a lot more. When his adopted daughter, Katie, was going through her horrible stalker experience, my heart worried about her. In fact, I wrote Jeff and told him if he needed a safe place for her, for them, they could come and spend time with me.

I wept as I read his accounts of his friend's death. I wept when I read his account of his brother's dreadful and mournful loss of his little girl. I cheered and clapped my hands when I read how Jeff and the police out-smarted the stalker, caught him, and how he is now serving time in jail.

Every post Jeff wrote, I read. His words touched me greatly. I loved his winning spirit, his "never give up" attitude. He had amazing experiences and he shared each of them on his blog.

The last week or so, it dawned on me that I had not read anything from him in a while. I checked my reader to make sure it was updated with his blog. It was. I then clicked on Jeff's blog, wondering if he had changed his feed. But, to my dismay, his blog no longer existed.

Initially, I felt very shocked and confused. As I thought more and more about it, however, I decided he must have taken the blog down for a good reason: perhaps he had gotten too busy with work and in helping Katie's (his adopted daughter) professional singing career take off; maybe there were additional problems with Katie now being out in the public eye; perhaps Jill's (his friend who had passed away from cancer) death had finally REALLY gotten to him and he needed privacy; or, maybe he just got tired of blogging.

I wondered how come Jeff had not contacted me to tell me he would no longer be blogging? I felt sad at my loss. I knew I would miss him and his blog. I worried about him, hoped he and his family were doing OK.

Today, I decided to Google him, see if he had begun another blog, see if I could find any thread so that I could contact him to make sure he was alright. I hoped I would find something about Jeff that would lead me to him.

Oh, I found out things alright, but things I never expected to learn:

My so-called friend, Jeff, who has been blogging for over six years, is not a real person- EVERY THING he shared was a lie. The person who has been writing this blog used it as a diversion, a "creative writing experience" and, now that he has been found out and his true identity given, he "feels bad for everyone he has hurt".

He feels bad?

What about his hundreds of followers and readers whom he duped?? He had no friend die from cancer, he adopted no child, there was no stalker, his brother's daughter did not die in her sleep, and on and on and on. EVERY word the man wrote was merely a scam, to entice and to bring people to his words, a scam brought alive first because he "had a friend who died from cancer". He knew that would draw people in- who doubts someone who has lost a dear friend to cancer?

I am still processing how I feel about this whole thing, about "Jeff". I feel angry with his HUGE deception. I also feel like a real ninny- I bought into every word he wrote, hook, line, and sinker. And, now, to find out he did this over an extended time period as a creative writing experience, well, I pretty much want to go ninja on him. I do not do well with being lied to nor being scammed. To quote from the movie "Stand and Deliver": "I see you (Jeff) on the street- I'm gonna beat the shit out of you."

I do not generally subscribe to violence. But, yep, that pretty well sums it up.