I’ve always educated people who I know and especially those who I don’t yet know that their total anonymity won’t get past me. Withheld numbers don’t cut the mustard in my world, nor do false names and all other strategies that people employ to protect their identities from me [and other women in roles similar to and very different from mine]. Albeit I fully understand and empathize with people’s intentions to protect their identities when they haven’t yet dealt with me and don’t know who they’re signing up for, my philosophy on this has always been straightforward: if you can see details about my identity on my site down to my breast size, then me having your full real name, phone number I’ll be able to reach you on in cases of absolute necessity, and email address for discreet communication must surely be the minimal requirement. After all, in the States high end companions are well known to want their prospects’ home addresses, work details, and all down to their drivers’ licences and even passport numbers! [God bless America!] The bottom line of me telling you all this is that I’ve always had a naturally inquisitive mind which can never help bringing out the detective in me. Well, this time the tec struck gold – and is proud of it to say the least!
Here’s how: One day I received an email from a junior banker working for one of the big 5 Canadian banks downtown Toronto instructing me to call his work number before 5:30 p.m. because “his mother was a bitch” and “after 5:30 his mother would be on his ass“. Albeit I smelt something suspicious, I called the number just to be sure my intuition was not misleading me. I asked to speak to the guy and was told I was speaking to him, and told him that I was calling as per instruction in his email. When he denied knowing anything about the email, I read him the email and he again denied having sent it.
A day later the correspondence continued and the writer started pouring out a lot of emotional baggage, mentioning his exgirlfriend, her apartment number and address [in a building where my friend lives, so I knew the address was real] having dug his gold and how she pissed him off etc. I rode along with it and albeit remaining suspicious, keeping a cool head. After a few more exchanges of emails the writer suggested that we meet for a coffee downtown, which I said would be nice [because I wanted to find out what the writer’s next reaction would be]. Then the conversation went quiet for a few days and when the suggested date of the coffee meeting approached, I mailed him to ask where and what time we could meet. I received no response, so left it at that and life went on.
After a few days the writer wrote that he was sorry, but was sent on a business trip to New York across the [Canadian] long weekend, because his boss knew he was single… so that was why he didn’t contact me. At this point he again asked me to call his work number which I did, and when I spoke to the guy, he again denied having sent any of that correspondence. When I then suggested that he must’ve been set up and added the suggestion that he think through his networks of friends and enemies, he thanked me for being helpful and asked me to forward any correspondence I had to him adding that he’d forward it to the bank’s corporate security team. At this point I asked how I’d know whether any correspondence would come from the real him or his impersonator and we agreed on a sign of acknowledgement. He acknowledged receipt of my forwarding of the correspondence and that was the last time I had contact with the real guy.
As if by magic, the emails stopped. But after a week or more I received an invitation to connect on LinkedIn… Yes, from the banker. So I deliberately accepted and observed his profile, complete with his connections, etc. It all looked immensely real – his work details, his connections were all professionals in the financial world, even his resume, education, the lot! Seriously, the gullible would have fallen for this without question – his impersonator must have known him well! However, there were a few clues that would make the more detective minds suspicious, so I was 95% convinced that I was connecting to the impersonator and not to the real banker. Nonetheless I went with it and after my acceptance of his invitation the correspondence moved to LinkedIn. Here I adopted a more confrontational strategy – my first question to him after accepting the invitation was whether he was the real guy. He said he was and then, a few messages later, my question to him was why his profile photo was blurred. Since I noticed that he changed his photo several times while we were connected AND that his photos were always blurred, that shouted suspicion, so I went straight into it. To this the writer responded that he didn’t have his photo blurred, which was obviously a recognition of the fact that I was too observant for his liking. Next the writer wrote how nice a woman [characterwise] I was and encouraged me to call him on the work number for a chat. So this time I decided to go bold and back him into a corner by suggesting that he calls me [which I had long predicted that would never happen].
This suggestion indeed killed it and all correspondence stopped in a whisk, plus the phone call never came. However, another phone call did come – 2 months later – from Toronto police telling me that they’d caught a female impersonator of this banker, and thanking me for the important part I had played in catching her! I was very happy to meet with a constable who brought me all the email correspondence printed for me to put together a statement for the courts, which I duly did and all was wrapped up by the end of the second month from the incident.
So the moral of the story is: reread and respect the first paragraph of this post! Don’t mess with people, because you never know who you’re messing with! If you’re hiding behind insecurities, get some good coaching!
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