It goes without saying that the internet is full of shysters, whether in the form of Nigerian princes who want into your bank account or online daters who want into your heart (for which you may read: pants).
In hindsight though, the Conman though feels truly special in the way that an experience that has genuinely managed to shock you can. Which is to say, it was special enough that after meeting him I deleted all my apps and swore off them off for about eight weeks until a not serious head injury kept me off work and bored enough that they were all quickly reinstalled. It’s a whole other story.
At this point, I’ve forgotten which site we met on but remember that we moved quickly from it to iMessage and Snapchat. His frequent snap chats showed him moving between cities and countries with phenomenal speed that reinforced all his talk the successful international consultancy career in a field that was never entirely clear. I have family that do those kind of jobs; they’re a thing. It didn’t worry me.
He was from an artistic background, the child of late stage hippies with the kind of truly odd first name to prove it. He’d left school young, gone into business for himself at 18 and done well. While not exactly a looker, he was interesting enough that going for a few drinks the next time he was in Ireland did not seem like a bad idea at all.
So we did. He dropped a pin in Google Maps showing where he was in the city and I suggested that we meet at my favourite dive bar as it was close to his hotel. The night was full of craic and conversation until the following exchange raised a question mark from me:
Me: Your first name is so unusual. What’s your surname?
Him: Oh, I don’t really tell people my surname.
Me (Internally): MARRIED.
Me: Oh OK… Up to you…
Him: Long-winded excuses that made no sense at all but I let slide because I already had his weird first name and Google user name from when he dropped the pin and knew that was enough to stalk him online with.
Me: No, seriously, it’s fine but I’d better head.
Obviously, the first thing I did the next day was type that information into Google. His weird username turned out to be his first and middle names. About three links down it showed up in a random Facebook discussion about a US based company that had swindled its customers. He was the CEO.
Below this information, in links posted by other chagrined members of the public was posted his 4-year-old wedding photo (which I already suspected existed somewhere) and a link to an article about what a sinister character he was.
He still snapchats me regularly. I only sometimes reply and have never mentioned that I know all of this information, life experience having proven that there’s little to no point confronting people like this as they’re unlikely to even react with more than a sneer and a shrug. They’re better off ignored or dismissed with a simple, “No, I won’t be able to meet up when you’re here. This head injury is gonna have me laid up and off drink ‘til at least Christmas.”