Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Internet Scammers are not mentally ill by default

Three years ago and 2 days ago Michal, who I didn't know at the time, and I both prayed through days that lead from weeks and months of prayers.  The prayers were for a young Christian woman who had become pregnant out of wedlock, by a man who was not a Christian.  The baby was diagnosed in utero with 2 fatal conditions.  My medical knowledge gave me buzzes of "not right" but I let them go.  The woman's blog gained reader's incredibly quickly (it later turned out that she had been posting comments directing people to her site EVERYWHERE.)  Her pregnancy wasn't expected to last very much longer than 32 weeks, with the blog starting at 30-32 weeks.  Suddenly many ads appeared.  She was tricky though.  She set up things like a weekly list of prayers so that if you clicked out to a blog and then came back you'd earn her more clicks and more advertising money.  And then this "no way the baby will live to term" pregnancy reached 42 weeks.  Under pressure she gave birth at home.  A series of posts appeared after the birth about nasty comments and the blog disappeared.  The day I googled April Rose scam and immediately hit many, many pages of information I was stunned.  I didn't want to believe it, just like I didn't want to believe my medical hunches.  I finally read enough to be convinced.  Eventually there was a news article and an interview where somehow she came out looking like an anti-abortion advocate and said she started writing as a way to deal with a prior pregnancy loss and then couldn't believe her audience.  Having arrived from a comment somewhere on her 2nd post that was patently false. An apology that wasn't an apology was on the blog, off the blog, on the blog and constantly adapted.  But it's hard to believe someone is a creep.  How do I know this?

For me (and Michal) and many other people it was very hard to let this go without knowing everything possible.  It's hard to put emotion into something then find out it was all manipulation.  So both of us wound up on a blog that delved deeply into trying to show exactly who and what the person who did all this was.  This blog was addictive.  There was drama, there were always promises of more excitement, there was always a chance to be one of the author's "favorite readers".  Then suddenly some mean blogs went up about the blogger and she shut down, writing about how she had learned she liked blogging and would do so again.  She promised a wrap-up post of information still not given.  And she promised that she would send people who requested the information on discs as soon as possible.  And then to my knowledge she was never heard from again.

There's a third blogger who I started reading 4 or 5 years ago.  Back then she just had a blog.  In the last few years she became well known after yet another round of prayer requests went around the world for first her unborn son with a heart condition believed to be incompatible with life, then who was miraculously fine, then very sick through a couple procedures and now is fine.  During her son's illness she changed from the "just writing" person I'd started reading to someone out to do anything to increase her ad revenue.  I quit reading there in disgust probably right around the time of the first scam.  (Who, by the way, I found through blogger 3).

One night recently I checked in on the 3rd blogger and found she's in the midst of some sad times.  Yet all I could think on her blog was "commercial".  While reading about some of what was then clearly a big plot to make money often using her kids as well as lying a lot to her readers, I found reference to the name of blogger 2.  I clicked.  Turns out she's another scammer.  Blogger 3, in the meantime I continued to read because I just can't even understand the financial decisions and lies that her blog has been about from the beginning.

Blogger 2, I eventually discovered, lied numerous times during the time we read her blog so avidly.  I pulled it up on reader (can't access it otherwise) and realized that she just pulled everyone along with her, creating drama, never telling a whole story, never, ever providing evidence that she continued to state she had.  Then I found her first blog from about 3 years prior to when we "met" and found more lies and inconsistencies that made me think that she had made up some of the props for the drama effect on her own blog.  Now she had pulled of her own medical scam.

And now.  I read a couple weeks ago about a blogger whose children's pictures had been stolen and used as siblings on an extensive facebook network about a young child with cancer.  Thankfully I'd never been trapped in this one.  The picture of the child with cancer was also discovered to be stolen, as did the other 6 or 7 siblings as well as daddy to all and adoptive mommy to all plus she was pregnant.  "Mommy" was in a horrible car accident a few weeks ago and was brain dead.  She lived long enough for the baby to be delivered and then died.  And then apparently the scam fell down again.  Today I've read some about it.  The scammer is a 22 year old who lives in Ohio, in a town I'm not sure of.  She allegedly attended this medical school in my general vicinity (Dr. Body used to teach with them) that is a combination college/med school in 6 years? (I think) deal.  You have to be very smart to get in.  A number of doctors I've seen at Cleveland Clinic have come there for residency after graduating from that place.  I just drove by it 8 days ago.  Vagely she's on leave from there.  The truly incredible thing is that she has been running this scam which involved at least 100 made-up identities, plus much time mailing packets and individual bracelets and ribbons for support, since she was a teenager, possibly as far back as 11 although I can't see that.  Her identities conversed on facebook and IM'd people, sometimes 2 of her "people" were IM'ing in separate chats at the same time.  The comments are the same as those made when scam #1 in this story was found.  Horror, shock, desire for her to be punished, nowhere to turn.

And in all of these cases the thread holding them together:  Immediately everyone calls the scammer mentally ill, wants to force treatment, make comments about "If I were her parent I'd take to a psych unit and leave her".   First off, for those who feel they need to say that, never gonna happen.  First, psych hospitals are for people who are at risk of killing themself or others or experiencing treatments that can't be done outpatient, like a few of my med issues my first 2 admissions.  Second, if you parked your daughter at the psych unit and left she'd stare at a very tightly locked OUTSIDE of a door.  They don't take drop-offs.  It's not a dry cleaner.  A psych admission is generally done through an ER or occasionally how I have done it, with my psychiatrist calling the unit and saying "Jen needs hospitalized, can you take her".

Most importantly, people do horrible things.  Christians call it sin.  Others call it other things that I'm too tired to think of (karma? evil?).  Doing something awful does not make you mentally ill.  You may have a mental illness contributing to what you are doing, but that's going to tend to be a personality disorder.  Those are not even close to bipolar and schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorders, or severe depression, which are what hospitals treat.  People who run these scams are not likely to have a severe mental illness because they are far too organized and much different in how they think than someone with severe mental illness (remember, I have a lot of clinical experience with this as well as my personal experience and knowing other mentally ill people).  The only really effective treatments for them are psychotherapy.  And even that isn't always very effective.  These are sadly broken people.  They do HORRIBLE things.  I was spitting tacks when I found out about blogger 2 and some of what blogger 3 has done.  But in general the entire "theye need to be locked up in a psych unit"; "they need an intervention"; "they need to be in a psych ward for a LONG time", those comments are, well, unfair to those of us who do need that kind of care and also it leaves stigma.  I can promise you, not once in my mental illness nor in anyone mentally ill I know has that kind of scam come to mind.  I had one patient who faked paralysis for years along with other things and HE might have done something like this had he been willing to move but he had a personality disorder or 2 or 3.  And it's not that these people don't need and deserve help, it's just that everyone leaps to a conclusion that makes the vast majority of severely mentally ill people look bad.  Bipolar/schozophrenia do not make one lie and manipulate.  It makes it much harder to do so.

And it really hurts to constantly read people's perceptions of what mental illness causes people to do.

(And I swear that I am not a scam blogger!)
Copyright 2006 www.masterofirony.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Michal Ann said...

Are the scammers crazy but not nuts? Nuts but not crazy? Crazy like a fox?

1. crazy like a fox

Implies the opposite. The individual refered to is not crazy at all, rather cunning (like a fox). Used when one appears to be 'crazy', but is acting with a hidden motive, in a cunning way.

(Urban Dictionary for what it's worth)

Jen, from the beginning of our friendship of three years, I've always appreciated you for sharing this point of view about sinful lies and manipulation vs. true mental illness. Terms get thrown around without understanding their true meaning. Keep teaching me, o.k.?

Thanks for taking so much energy to put this out for me to consider once again.

I'm shaking my head at scams #1, #2and #3. One of #1's most recent insincere apologies acknowledged that one of the many unfortunate consequences of her fake sick baby story was that families in true need would face cynicism generated by her scam and thus wouldn't get the help and sympathy they deserved.

Yeah, I'm not a scammer either. I'd never read a blog in my life until I heard of the TRUE and worthy story of Audrey Caroline. Following one blog to another led me into the "web" of lies. I've been blessed more than wounded by this "world" but there have been some painful lessons along the way, as you know. It's one thing to "hear" that internet scammers exist. It's an entirely different thing to have fallen for several and have to sort through the wreckage. I've done this IRL, too, and that's why I'm in recovery groups for co-dependency.

I'm totally impressed that you've been getting exercise! It may not have resulted in burning off much of the anxiety (mania) but it's GOOD for you in any case. Your proactive measures always impress me.

Sounds like yesterday with Dr. Mind was all I prayed for. There's no "poof" magical solution but you're working well together, one step at a time.

Off to take a step,

Love, Michal

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of your Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23