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Susceptible to Con Artists

By Angel of Mercy ~

I have very little experience judging things based on facts rather than circumstance, opinion, or blind belief. Often, when my reasoning faculties have failed me due to lack of practice, I am left to rely on how I feel about something as basis for my decisions. This is why, time and time again, I have been suckered into joining cult after cult only to realize that my time, energy, and money have been wasted while my return on investment was negative. I never even broke even to recover my initial investment. Most painful is the fact that I nearly lost what was most dear to me, my relationships with loved ones, as I exploited or neglected them in order to attain what I thought at the time was a greater purpose.

My mind has been trained to be gullible. [...] Traces of the disease of Christianity are left inside my mind. My upbringing in Christianity taught me to view people as so stupid, ignorant, and "sinful" that they don't know what is good for them. I was brainwashed into believing that I knew the only way to live was to die with Christ. It was my responsibility to share the "good news" with everyone I came into contact with through living by example. Thus, I find it no surprise that I was a terrible friend, daughter, sister, and lover. My goal was to manipulate people into being who I wanted them to be for me, rather than accept them for who they are. Nearly every encounter I had with people was fake. I was always selling them an idea, one that even I did not fully understand. I wasn't a real person who was vulnerable to emotion and attachment. I was a fraud --- just a shadow of who my parents, church leaders, and relatives wanted me to be. The only relationship that mattered to me was the one I had with my imaginary friend, Jesus. He was my everything.

My freshman year in college, I met a young man whose charisma, charm, and intelligence swept me away. He was so entertaining that I loved to be around him as much as possible. Anything he asked me to do, I obliged. I wanted so badly for him to like me. I believed that he was my best friend. So, when he told me about this company that was going to make us so rich that we'd be college drop-outs like Bill Gates and Sean Combs (AKA "Puff Daddy," "Puffy," "P. Diddy," and "Diddy"), I was sold. We thought it was god's will for us to prosper.

Dreams of being the star college kids who started a business from their dorm rooms with minimal financial risk enthralled us. We thought we were so smart and that we had found "the way," but we were suckers. The "business" we launched was nothing more than a chain letter in disguise. Yet, we thought this pyramid scheme was the new road to riches. We were taught by our uplines to stay away from "dream stealers," even if they were close friends or family because they would taint our vision of success. Once we made it big, they would be begging us for our forgiveness and would want to join our organization.

We held weekly meetings that were strategically designed to stop people from thinking and asking logical questions, but to feel the excitement in the room and want to sign up. I was completely uneasy with the whole thing and mentally dropped out after only a few weeks. I never signed one person or sold one product. I was a failure. Yet, that didn't stop my friend from telling everyone what a huge success I was in the company. He always introduced me as his best consultant. I led trainings and meetings as though I actually knew how to show others how to be successful. Again, I was a fraud. I lied about everything so easily that I even believed myself sometimes. My friend and I would brag all the time about how we could sell size 0 clothing to fat women. How deplorable and pathetic was I?

My friend became a major success (by the standards of that scam artist's dream of a company). He went on to build a gigantic organization of people signing up to sign up others who would sign up others --- all of them hoping to be the next big deal. He moved out of the dorms and into an extremely expensive high-rise apartment where his neighbors were congressmen and senators (one of which was then Senator Barack Obama). He paid over $4000 a month in rent, threw the biggest and hottest parties on campus, bought super nice clothes, and flew all over the country on "business trips."

I was not impressed by any of it. The glitter had worn off for me. If anything, I was hurt. After I dropped out of the company, I never heard from him unless it was specifically about why I was a loser for getting out when I did or his new this or new that. He became a nuisance as we could never talk about anything other than his company or how much money he was making and if I was sure I didn't want back in. All I ever really wanted was to be with him. I just wanted to laugh and have fun like we used to. I never once told him how I felt. I was too busy being holy.

Predictably (though then I would have never guessed it), the house of cards caved in. About 2 years after we launched the "business" together on our campus, I heard that his company had gone out of business. I called him to
offer my condolences, but he had not yet heard the news.

"What are you talking about?" he inquired, "I'm making more money than ever. I just got a huge bonus!!!"

"Oh," I replied, "maybe I heard wrong."

I hadn't. His company had gone bankrupt and I, no longer a member, had found out before he did.

You would think that this experience would have taught me to fully research any and all "business opportunities" with thorough analysis of compensation structure and bonuses, history of return on investment, interviews of current and past consultants, etc. Yet, once again, I have followed my misguided and untrained gut to my financial demise. I have traded in a chance at making a solid long-term investment for a gamble. While I did finish my degree in economics, it appears I have learned little.

I have spent over 20+ years being guided by my emotions and using the opinions of others to affirm my own beliefs. I am used to pushing away logic and reasoning, while shying away at asking tough questions of those selling to me for the sake of not embarrassing them when they do not have a concrete answer. I still believe things that sound good with no proof or evidence. My mind has been trained to be gullible. And, I fall for the promise of glory with little or no sacrifice far too often. Traces of the disease of Christianity are left inside my mind, while I grapple with the tough mental work it takes to become a thinking person of substance.

Meanwhile, the wolves circle around me salivating at the sight of a wounded animal. I am easy prey for con artists.


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