After the go-round with the phone number, things were quiet again for about six months. You stopped answering calls coming from 876 area codes. Mother and I thought things were done, now that you told them you wanted to be left alone. Without a willing participant, they can’t get money. We thought that, eventually, they would give up.
We thought wrong. One day in May, 2013, you answered one of the half-dozen calls you were getting daily; and it all resumed. Once they’d heard your voice again, they became like sharks tasting blood in the water. They swarmed. They called ten times a minute. You couldn’t resist answering. One of them told you he was a Federal agent investigating you for money laundering. You stopped sleeping, we couldn’t stop you from answering the phone, and you started sending them money again. You were still driving, at this point, and you would leave the house unannounced on your quests to purchase VHS tapes at Wal-Mart (the only place retro enough to still sell 10-packs of VHS tapes in 2013) and to send money to Jamaica via Western Union. You just wanted them to leave you alone, and you thought that one day they would have enough of your money that they’d grant you that wish. You didn’t know what I was reading in the papers, that people your age had paid as much as a half million dollars to these scammers, in that same hope of ending the harassment, and still achieved no peace.
More, given the fact that they were pulling up Google Earth images of the house and neighborhood, telling you what cars were in your driveway, and what stores were on the corner nearby, they had you convinced that their associates were indeed in the area, and were coming to harm you. Mother began to believe that “they” could show up at any time. She and I discussed plans for securing the house and hiding if someone did show up. I told her to call 911 any time she saw an unknown vehicle. But I knew “they” were nowhere but in that cardboard shack on that cursed little island.
I’m a peaceful person, but I began to fervently wish that the US military would just go and bomb that damned little island until it was all melted to glass. I knew, of course, that that was a horrible thought, and that only a few Jamaicans were responsible for your torture.
But it was torture. It was sustained, psychological warfare. And I was beginning to develop the hatred that one feels for the enemy in wartime. I don’t know what you felt. Half the time, you were convinced that these people were your friends. In the same breath you would say that you were writing a book on scams, and that “they” would be hear any minute with your new car.
I am sure you were frightened, though, under it all. I suspect strongly that “they” had told you they were coming to kill your family, if you didn’t keep sending them money. Your failing mind, coupled with your protector’s instincts, could do nothing but try to keep them away.
After some days of this, and after she confessed to me that $15,000 had disappeared from your money market account in the course of a month, I finally convinced Mother to take almost all the money out of your joint accounts and place it out of your reach. I also convinced her (but not you) that it was time to get the phone number changed, and to leave the house phone off the hook most of the time until she did.
It wasn’t easy to convince her. It wasn’t easy to get information from her on what was happening. Mother so wanted to protect you. She at once wanted to believe that there was some obscure sort of reason behind your actions, because you were a genius and sometimes hard to understand, and to protect you by not letting anyone know how completely irrational your actions had become. She knew you were approaching the end of your life, and she just wanted your final days to be peaceful. She literally would have given up her last dime to buy that peace for you.
At some point in May, 2013, you gave out the routing and account numbers on your checking account. That resulted in a forged check for $400 clearing within minutes, and the bank reversing the charge and closing out your account in favor of a new one.
You also attempted to deposit $12,000 by personal check from your money market account into a Bank of America account they’d given you the number for. The branch manager at the credit union categorically refused to honor your check. He said the Bank of America account was flagged and paying the check would make them an accessory to a crime. You were furious. We were glad someone was looking out for you.
And then you deposited one of those scam checks you had received, and tried to outsmart the scam by immediately drawing the amount of the check out in cash–$7500. Real smart. You had something like $30K in that account. When the check bounced, the bank deducted the $7500. Mother kept saying, “Oh, but they got that money back.” Which makes no sense, as you didn’t lose any money. You just converted part of what you already had to cash.
Which you then lost by buying money orders and MoneyPak cards to send to Jamaica.
All told, we estimate you withdrew $30,000 from the joint bank accounts you had with Mother. Today, every dime of it is gone.