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Paige Vickers
Paige Vickers

I Was Conned By A Married Man

I never thought it could happen to me.

Everywhere you look these days the news is full of stories of terrible things happening on dating apps. There’s the Netflix special The Tinder Swindler or the series Dirty John. But a word of caution to all singles looking for love: Cons can happen to anyone, anywhere — and not just on dating apps.

I met Brian at a party at a neighbor’s house three years ago. A recently widowed surgeon visiting from Boston, we were introduced by my neighbor whom I had known for several years, as someone who was “like a son” to him. Mild mannered and funny, it was clear after a few cocktails that we had a connection.

In town for the weekend, Brian told me he was planning to retire early and asked me if I would like to join him the next day to go house hunting. He didn’t know many people and could use the help of a local.

We met the next day in one of the older established neighborhoods (note: VERY expensive). Brian wanted a home large enough to entertain in but without too much yard upkeep. His price range was around $2 million. We were in the right neighborhood.

The real estate agent showed us three lovely homes, and with each house I got to know Brian a little more. His surgical practice was very specialized and facing a lawsuit for some BS, he said, and he thought it was time to retire. His wife had passed away from cancer three years earlier, and with a son in college and a daughter living on her own he was ready for change.

He asked if he should move the baby grand piano his wife used to play. If he kept it — which I encouraged him to do (for the children, of course) — it would need a special room. The agent suggested making sure it was not directly in the sunlight. Apparently, that’s bad for baby grand pianos. Note to self.

The third house had a pool and seemed perfect for entertaining. A place for the baby grand, a lovely kitchen and a parking space for his “specialty” car (which, I would later learn, was a Bugatti, gifted by a Saudi prince for helping save his daughter’s life in a particularly traumatic birth — I mean, yeah, of course). It was $2 million more than his original budget, but Brian was unfazed. He fell in love with this one and planned to buy it.

After two days of house hunting and dinners every evening, it was clear the new life he was planning was going to have me in it. La-di-da! Our last night together we had dinner outside, talking long after midnight. He told me about his family in Boston, his twin brother, his children and his love for coaching baseball. At last, a nice guy — and a widower; my mother would be so happy!

After last call he invited me up to his room, but I declined. I wasn’t ready to give up the cookie quite so quickly. With plans to go sailing the next day with my neighbor and his girlfriend, we kissed goodnight and I made my way home.

But Brian didn’t show up for the sailing the next day. Texts and phone calls went unanswered. The hotel he was staying at said no one by that name was registered.

None of it made sense, but I went sailing anyway. While on the boat, my neighbor — whose house I had met Brian at — told me that something similar had happened last time Brian was in town. He just up and left without telling anyone — later explaining his father had died unexpectedly and he had to fly home.

Spidey-senses tingling, I went into hard-core research mode. The next day and many hours later I found Brian’s wife’s Facebook page, which told me everything I needed to know — starting with her profile picture: a family photo taken three months earlier. Clearly, not dead.

A resident of a nearby town, it was clear he was not who he said he was. And I was angry. He came to my town posing as someone else, but in true psychopath behavior he kept just enough truth in his stories. Ultimately, following the breadcrumbs online led me to his real identity.

When I took the information to my neighbor, he laughed it off as a joke. I told him I was disappointed that he would so freely vouch for someone he had, as it turns out, known only for three months.

When I saw Brian in town about three months later, I texted him — telling him the gig was up and that he had better think again before he showed his face in my neighborhood. He replied with a simple “understood.”

Thankfully I haven’t seen Brian since. But I can assure you, there are more like him out there. Word of advice: Always be cautious and listen to your gut. Don’t always listen to your neighbor. 

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