At a Christmas party on Saturday night, the conversation turned to hot water radiators. My husband, who is mechanically inclined, explained to a woman, who was trying to save money by conserving heat, how to bleed the air out of an old-style hot water heating system.
Eventually, the conversation revealed why the woman was trying to save money. She’d purchased an old farmhouse for her business. She secured a $150,000 construction loan to renovate the house and retained a contractor. The contractor insisted on installing the thermostat for the hot water heating system on a wall directly across from a wood burning stove. (For those of you who are not mechanically inclined, this is a really dumb idea.) The contractor also told the woman that she couldn’t insulate the farmhouse because moisture would create a mold problem. (This is true, but it is a problem that is readily solved, and insulating the house is a really good idea.)
Further conversation revealed that the contractor, who was president of some kind of historical building society, had not completed $70,000 worth of work for which he had been paid. The bank repeatedly came to inspect the job, bought the guy’s stories about why the work wasn’t done, and released the next installment of money. The farmhouse owner, of course, signed off on all the payments.
At one point a bank representative asked the farmhouse owner, “Are you sure about this guy?”
“Oh, he’s fine,” she replied. “He’s the president of the historical building society.”
The contractor hasn’t paid the subcontractors, and they’re demanding their money from the farmhouse owner. She hired a lawyer, who went along with a plan suggested by the contractor’s lawyer, which was useless. So now the woman is trying to save her home and her business. Plus, she’s cold.
“Sounds like you’re dealing with a sociopath,” I said.
I don’t know if this woman has any good options. We suggested that she sue the bank, because the bank released the money. But she approved payments, so that may not work. She can’t afford another lawyer. As has happened to many of us who have dealt with sociopaths, she may be stuck holding the bag.
Fort Dix Five
This woman may suffer terrible financial losses. But others involved with sociopaths lose much more.
A few weeks ago, in The con man, the thug and the jihadists, I wrote about the five young Muslim men who were on trial for plotting a terrorist attack against U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Most of the prosecution’s case was based on conversations secretly recorded by an informant, an illegal immigrant from Egypt, who was paid $240,000 by the FBI.
I predicted that the jury would see that the informant was a con man who manipulated the young men. I predicted that the defendants would walk. I was wrong.
The five young Muslims were convicted of conspiring to kill military personnel. They were acquitted of the more serious charge of attempted murder because they didn’t actually do anything. Still, they all face life in prison.
Yes, they did go to a shooting range in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, shot at targets and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great.” They videotaped themselves doing this and brought the tape to a Circuit City store to be converted to DVD. One of them also downloaded violent jihadist videos from the Internet.
But would they have actually have gone any further? Would they have even discussed plans, which were nothing more than vague, wild ideas, if they hadn’t been goaded on by the sociopath, who was being paid to keep them talking?
I know how convincing sociopaths can be, so I don’t think they would have done anything without his encouragement. But I wasn’t on the jury, and the people who were apparently don’t understand sociopaths. So the young Muslims were left holding the bag. They may spend the rest of their lives in prison.
For his efforts, the con man informant, who was twice convicted of bank fraud, was promised legal residency in the United States, courtesy of our Justice Department.
Education is key
The consequences of entanglements with sociopaths are always negative, ranging in scale from unpleasant to deadly.
That’s why Lovefraud’s mission is to educate people about sociopaths. Right now, most people find Lovefraud because they’re already entangled with a sociopath and facing the consequences. We’ll soon announce a new initiative to help people cope with what has happened to them.
But eventually we hope to have programs to educate people about this personality disorder and the red flags of sociopathic behavior. Our goal is to help people escape the terrible consequences by avoiding the predators in the first place.