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Some romance scams leave a dead body behind

There are incoming FightFraudAmerica.com cases that I certainly feel bad about, but my gut reaction is “this guy is too stupid to breathe.” Another level of complaints gets a “Wow. Clever hoax, but it doesn’t surprise me people fall for it.” And then there’s that third level, the ones that still bring a tear to my eye and cause me to question how long I can continue in this line of work before the dam breaks.

Recently the case that presented itself fit all too neatly into that third category.

Romance Scams, Sweetheart Swindles, Black Widow Crimes, call them whatever you want. They are surely the cruelest hoaxes of all.

Today I am working on the case of a recently deceased 69-year-old, big, tough, vibrant, healthy man, who succumbed to the deadly combination of a lonely life after his wife died and bumping into a pretty lady while he was out grocery shopping one day.

Bart was a church goer, active in a senior motorcycle riders club, and the father of two grown children, who both lived far away. Cathy, (a/k/a Kathy, Cathryn, Katherine, Cathleen, Katerina, Maria and Rachel and all in combination with three similarly spelled last names) was a dream come true for Bart. She moved into his world and home, quickly. Way too quickly.

His cycling buddies tried to talk to him. His minister visited. His neighbors were concerned enough to call his children and they came to visit, pleading with their Dad to wake up. In all three cases he stormed out of the room, uncharacteristically shouting, “Don’t tell me how to live my life. I’ll spend my remaining days with whomever I damn well please.”

Three weeks ago, Bart called one of his only remaining friends late one night, and over the course of a five-minute conversation mentioned that he thought he might have a touch of the stomach flu. Kathy had just returned from a visit to California, and she’d gone to bed early because she was exhausted. Ever thoughtful, she’d left his dinner in the refrigerator; meatloaf and mashed potatoes, his favorite. Bart never woke up the next day.

Bart’s will, just read a few days ago, was a surprise. Revised in January 2014, he left his home, his car, his new Harley, his RV — every worldly possession — and his life insurance to Cathy. His 401k was completely depleted, his savings account stood at $48 and the college funds for his grandchildren had been closed out months earlier. His two children were left only the knick-knacks and pictures of their childhood.

This is a REAL CASE, people. Bart was a father, a grandfather, a good man. Cathy, or whatever her name really is, may have made a crucial mistake on this one. She left town before arranging Bart’s burial, probably with every cent of his million-dollar worth in a suitcase. And a body is a strong piece of evidence.

Beware of wolves dressed in lingerie.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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