By | December 4, 2007 2 Comments

Media profiles psychopaths without identifying them

One con artist called himself Luc Sonnet. He claimed to be a fine artist who studied with Picasso and sold his paintings to wealthy international clients for as much as $250,000.

The other con artist, Robert Freegard, claimed to be a British spy. He tracked international terrorists.

Both of these con artists were profiled in the media on Sunday, December 2. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper began its story about Luc Sonnet, whose real name was Richard Grossman, on the front page. The story continued inside for three more full pages.

Dateline, the investigative reporting television show produced by NBC News, told the story of Robert Freegard, a Brit who abducted an American woman and held several other people hostage with his lies. The story originally aired in July 2007—on Sunday it appeared on MSNBC.

Both Grossman and Freegard were proficient liars. They able to extract money from their victims, and keep their victims under their control, using a combination of charm, threats and brainwashing. In my opinion, both guys are classic psychopaths. But once again, the media did not identify the reason for their behavior.

Richard Grossman

For an up close and personal look at this outrageous con artist, I recommend the Inquirer story, called The Art of the Con. Read it right away—the article is available free for a limited time. (It will then be available in the archive for a small fee.)

According to the newspaper, Richard Grossman scammed major financial institutions out of nearly $18 million in the early 1990s. How? He claimed to be Dr. Richard C. Grossman, Ph.D., and he was going to open a lucrative practice dispensing psychological advice over the telephone. Most of the money was spent building himself a mansion.

When prosecuted, Grossman admitted that what he did was wrong, but claimed he was “eccentric.” A psychologist noted his keen intelligence, and said his record—the $18 million scam wasn’t his first—”suggests difficulties approaching psychotic or schizophrenic-like proportions.”

Due to his mental illness, prosecutors requested a prison term half as long as his crime warranted. Upon his release, Grossman started claiming to be a famous painter and invented the Luc Sonnet persona.

Unfortunately, a series of women who met him on dating websites believed his stories. Once they were hooked, Grossman pressured them for money. One woman left the country to escape him. Another’s family paid Grossman $24,000 to leave her alone.

It wasn’t only women that Grossman conned. He convinced several galleries to show his work—most of which looked like it was printed off a computer. Theaters agreed to host his “performance art” shows. And several newspapers published his pack of lies in complimentary stories.

Robert Freegard

In an episode entitled The spy who loved her, Dateline told the story of Robert Freegard, a used car salesman who claimed the job was a cover for his real work—spying. The transcript of the show is available on the MSNBC website.

Kim Adams was an American with a Ph.D. in psychology. She moved to England because she always wanted to live abroad, and that’s where she met Freegard. He sold her a car. Eventually, he started asking Adams out, and then gradually let her in on his secret—he worked for MI5, Britain’s counter-intelligence and security agency. He invited Adams to join the service, but she’d have to borrow $35,000 from her parents to do it. The parents wired the money—and then Adams vanished.

This wasn’t the first time Freegard used the spy story. He convinced three college students that they were being pursued by the IRA—and he was the only one who could protect them. This required money, and the students paid him more than $1 million.

Several other women were also scammed—but one of them called the police. This led to the FBI getting involved in the disappearance of Kim Adams. The American woman was rescued—after her mother worked with the FBI to set up a sting and arrest Freegard.

Psychopaths in action

Both of these stories provide a detailed look at a psychopath in action. Unfortunately, neither the Inquirer nor Dateline identified the personality disorder.

Perhaps the reporters didn’t recognize the problem—after all, most reporters are as ignorant about psychopaths as the millions of people who get victimized every year. Grossman, of course, had already fooled a psychologist and a prosecutor. And Adams, who was abducted by Freegard, was herself a psychologist.

Or maybe media lawyers advised against calling these con artists “psychopaths” or “sociopaths.” I’ve heard of several cases where that has happened.

So these two stories—Grossman and Freegard—were treated by the media as fantastical aberrations. The cases are admittedly extreme—but not all that unusual. Nearly 700 people have contacted Lovefraud with their own stories of victimization by psychopaths.

Psychopathic predators are everywhere. I just wish the media would start telling people.

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I have wondered if narcissists, sociopaths, etc., recognize themselves from their behavior or do they really feel justified for what they do? If someone calls them on it, will they see what they are doing or do they always think it’s the other guy?

I could never understand how the ones in my life could constantly cause me hurt but not feel any kind of remorse. My husband would say and do things that hurt me so badly, and he would say, “I’m sorry if you are”. I could never figure out what I did to be sorry for. All that ended up doing was cause me to constantly weigh every word and watch every movement I did, so I wouldn’t bring down his wrath. It didn’t matter anyway. Anything would set him off, so for many years I didn’t talk much, other than to call him for a meal and to try and respond to his advances. That became a major chore too.

I’m so glad to know, now there are a lot like him, not to glory in someone else’s pain, but to know I wasn’t nuts. I thought no one could possibly be living like we were. Wow. And I’ve found out that no matter what form the abuse is, the end result is the same. We all are broken in our esteem, self confidence, and self worth. They take something so vital away from us. They took our trust, exploited it and tossed it away when they drained us dry. I wish all these kinds could be exposed. They keep procreating and passing it on.

I rent apartments and I see the children of the adults who I know have personality problems and these children are becoming just like them. God’s word says the sin is passed on from generation to generation. It’s been here since the beginning of time, but it’s only lately that people are talking about it. I know for me, I’m tired of being used.

I was so messed up for so long, I thought if I could lose some of my weight, I could be loved. That has nothing to do with it. These men, I think want a trophy, but they just want to be admired for their choice because that will make them look good.
I held back losing the weight because I wanted to be sure where I stood and now that I know I’m on the outside looking in, and know I have no place there, I’m ready to take care of me. I’m ready to get back into shape for me. I will not do it for someone else again.

But I, too, wish that more people would talk about behaviors and what to really be aware of with these people. We think of predators as being sexual, but that’s just one small part. They prey on the mind and emotions to achieve their end. And to them the end justifies the means. Who cares who gets hurt. They sure don’t care. They are heartless. How I wish I knew then what I know now. At least all who meet here are seeking answers and they are here. We just need to step away and realize we are all we have.


Over the past years there has been a general uncovering of abuse, incest, and many other taboo subjects. But I am amazed at how widespread this form of abuse is and how it is ruining the lives of so many people now and I never heard about it before. When I was on the tail end of the time with my ex, I was going on websites to research cheaters, committment phobics, because initially I thought he was a committment phobic. It wasnt until I stumbled upon ‘Take back Your Heart’ that I was shocked to realise that I was dealing with someone far more dangerous. A film would be good, because it would be made more generally available to the wider public. There must be many people going through this degrading existence and suffering now. The other thing that concerns me, is information about how to capture the man of your dreams – the thing is – you dont always know what you are getting to start with. Although, I will now.

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