Sometimes People are Just Bad

01.17.13

white male executive handcuffs arrested

The local grifter mom keeps popping up and much like a Whack a Mole game I try my best to knock her out of my life. Like any arcade game worth it’s salt there’s no winning without cheating and I absolutely refuse to give this more energy than it deserves. Unfortunately that means that the grifter will likely continue fleecing small businesses and homeowners in and around Los Angeles…. until she pisses off the LAPD again.

You see, one of my friends lived next to the grifter in one of the many houses she squatted in. My understanding (and this is from the LAPD detective who described her as “pure evil”) is that she would use a realtor to describe a desperate situation since she was a single mother with two adorable kids, a deadbeat ex-husband and a women’s media pioneer. She and her realtor friend would roll in on a Saturday, leave a check deposit at the end of the day and move in on a Sunday. Of course the check would bounce on a Monday because most of these were written on checking accounts that were never opened. In fact in 2011 the LAPD told me that there was close to $200,000 of bad checks written including some to me, my dog trainer and my housekeeper. Oh about that friend… well she’s watching her friend get sucked into the grifter. They’re developing a business relationship.

So my friend approaches me and asks me what she should do. I just shrug because I don’t have a good answer. I explain to her that friends still won’t speak to me because I helped the Dad find his kids the last time I knew she was in jail. Which shouldn’t be confused for the first or second time. See, I have this policy of always helping the non-incarcerated parent. Oooh! Controversial!

My friend knows that her friend is getting fleeced. My friend wants to tell her friend and I’m trying to explain to her that no one will believe her. If you’re busy being normal you aren’t working very hard to make yourself appear believable. You just sort of march along assuming that the world plays by a set of rules. Well, the grifters of the world are spending their days and nights weaving webs of fantasy lives and peppering their friends with expensive gifts and over the top experiences. The grifters have a plan. The rest of us don’t.

My friend is going to do the right thing and share the information that she has. After all she quietly observed the grifter move in and out of the house in a single week, heard directly from the landlord and the police about the grifter’s penchant for oversized homes and luxury automobiles. But ultimately I fear that my friend will be punished. This is why the con has worked for a decade (possibly longer).

Some folks would argue that the grifter needs help. That there’s some hole that needs to be filled. She’s not an unintelligent woman, she’s just not a good person. Perhaps she’s mentally ill.

Right now people are talking about gun control and the mentally ill. They’re talking about how mass murderers and shooters must be, by default, mentally unstable. It simply isn’t so. Our grifter may be mentally ill but that doesn’t explain her behavior.

Some people are just bad. Evil exists and it doesn’t always have a diagnosis or a cure. There are mentally ill people who are perfectly lovely and absolutely harmless. Most of us could sit in a room long enough with the DSM and come up with a disorder. You can’t fix bad in a therapist’s office. This grifter (and probably many others) has her family sitting with talk doctors all the time and if you don’t start in a truthful place you’ll never get to an honest one.

I’m frustrated when I hear that we’re worried about keeping guns from the mentally ill. I look at my friends and their children who have serious conditions ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar or “just” OCD and I think that though I don’t want them to have weaponry I really really really don’t want them lumped together with criminals. Because it’s not criminal to have a brain that works a little differently.

I know, weird tangent.

 

Photo credit Andrew Bossi via creative commons

 

White Collar Criminals and their Wide Path of Destruction

01.30.12

Last year when Los Angeles’ jails and California’s prisons were overcrowded non violent offenders were paroled. In the mix were white collar criminals, grifters and con artists (perhaps the three are synonymous?). Last year I listened complacently to the news and nodded, thinking to myself, “That makes sense”.

This year I see it differently.

My friend Daphne Brogdon had her world turned upside down when she became (or rather realized she’d become) a victim to the Madoff Scam. I met with another lady last week who told me about a dear friend and business partner who had robbed everyone blind, and we both whispered about all the finance gurus online who live in their mother’s basements and don’t pay any of their bills. She is involved in crowdfunding. I told her in broad strokes about the grifter blogger here in Los Angeles.

With all of this swirling around the discussion becomes a question of how to trust people. How do you know that you won’t be continuously hurt, stolen from or punished?

After bouncing tens of thousands of dollars in checks (possibly hundreds of thousands), stealing cars and lying pathologically about her income, relationships and businesses, the grifter mom was arrested (not for the first time). An officer from the LAPD told me that she was, “The most coldhearted and evil woman I’ve ever encountered.”

As a direct result of this grifter mom-blogger’s actions my son has lost three friends. This absolutely kills me. She’s made dozens of people financially insecure, almost bankrupted a taco truck guy. Who doesn’t pay the taco truck? Who? There may or may not be sex with someone’s husband but certainly there was money and in all of this there are kids. Her kids, neighborhood kids, school kids… a lot of kids whose parents are made to feel like they might be crazy.

I’m not sure how these experiences have shaped me or if they will continue to shape me. I’m very interested in crowdfunding but the obvious obstacle is trust. I’m not sure that I’m ready to declare trust in the world.

Just Another Morning Where I Present an Emmy

10.13.11

It’s been a little bit challenging around here lately. Ever since the arrest of one of the local moms I’ve been given the silent treatment by a mutual friend. The feedback I get is, “you don’t need her anyhow”. But the reality is that I do and it’s a loss.

I’m not even mad at her because the Grifter Mom is such a talented con artist that I’m not sure I wouldn’t believe her if I was in another woman’s shoes. Fortunately I’m the mom that spent a hour on the phone with a police officer who gave me the details of the nine most recent felonies. I can’t unhear those things and I’m a lot less gullible than I was just a few months ago.

In addition to feeling like an asshole for believing a liar I feel a little lonely being shunned by the folks who were sucked into her world. Which is why I was so happy when Mr. G. came home from work with a giant box. I assumed he had a gift for me (shut up you might have thought so too). In reality he had something better than a gift for me.

“What’s in the box?” I asked him.

“An Emmy.” He said, sitting down to remove his shoes.

“Oh how fun, can we open it?” I asked, knowing that my husband has won several Emmys but since I never go to his office I haven’t actually seen one in real life.

“No, it’s for Loren.” He began, “Do you think you can give it to him or Anna tomorrow?” And then I danced around the house a little bit because I was going to get to deliver an Emmy.

I made a move to my iPhone so I could text Anna and make a plan and to say “OMG this is Loren’s first Emmy and I know there are going to be so many more because he’s SO INCREDIBLY TALENTED….” but I was interrupted by Mr. G. telling me that Loren didn’t know he’d won. So I texted Anna that I needed to see her in the morning and told the kids the fabulous secret, because everyone knows that kids can keep secrets, right? Anna and I would meet behind the school after dropping them off and I would bring her something.

This morning I got out of the car to bring Anna the giant box and she said, “Now I’m so curious what this is.” I told her it was something wonderful. She asked if it was from me or from Mr. G., I said it was from him. He face lit up, “Is it something from the Steelers?”

“It’s that awesome.”

Fifteen minutes later Anna texted me:

Wait. Is this real?

I swear I was so incredibly happy when Anna tweeted this.

2010 emmy award

This morning I was an Emmy Presenter. What did you do?