Fraud Victim Learns the Truth About Her Boyfriend
In part two of this episode, Whitney learns Greg is not the wealthy oil executive he claims to be
Young ICU nurse Whitney Kirkpatrick’s life is turned upside down when the police show up at her door looking for her boyfriend of nine months, Gregory Thomas. He is not the wealthy, successful oil executive he claims to be. Instead, Gregory has spun an elaborate web of lies — and he’s been funding his extravagant lifestyle with Whitney’s money. With the support of family and friends, Whitney finds the strength to move on and to educate others about identity theft and white-collar crime.
[00:00:00] Bob: This week on The Perfect Scam.
[00:00:03] John Buzzard: Fifty-six billion dollars in combined losses, 49 million victims. They might not be your loss numbers today, but they could be tomorrow.
[00:00:18] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Bob Sullivan. This is a two-part episode that begins with a harmless, fun, online dating profile and ends with a gruesome murder allegation with a lot of time in-between. Now if you haven't heard part one yet, go back and do that now. But to catch you up, we left off with a loud bang on the door. Whitney's door. Whitney is a young professional, a nurse living in Dallas. And she has just stepped into the shower and left her boyfriend, Greg, sitting on the couch. Greg is a cowboy hat-wearing, large life living man who she met online and has known for a bit less than a year. But there's a terrible bang on the door, and as she darts out of the shower, dripping wet, she sees Greg peering through the peephole on her apartment door saying, "It's going to be okay." But it isn't going to be okay.
[00:01:19] Bob: Okay, let's back up just a little to earlier that day when it just seemed like Greg wasn't being quite himself. That's, well that's foreshadowing if I could let you peak behind the storyteller's curtain. Here's Whitney talking about that day.
[00:01:35] Whitney Kirkpatrick: He wanted to go to the casino, which was odd. We had never gone to the casino before, but we lived in North Texas and so the casino was an hour away in Oklahoma. We drive up and we spend the day in the casino. He gives me some money to gamble with. And he's just on the gambling machine all day.
[00:01:52] Bob: It feels to Whitney like Greg is gambling over the top, almost like he's trying to spend his last dollar letting it all ride on red. He's trying to win big or lose everything. And he doesn't win big, so they go home.
[00:02:08] Whitney Kirkpatrick: So, we're driving back home, and we are in a, at the time, it was a rented Cadillac. He had so many different cars from the Mercedes to the, the Lexuses to the Cadillacs, um, and everything in-between. So we're driving back in this rented Cadillac, and we pull up at my apartment, go inside. I jump in the shower, first thing, jump in the shower. He is in the living area watching television.
[00:02:36] Bob: And in an instant everything about Whitney's life is about to change.
[00:02:41] Whitney Kirkpatrick: While I'm in the shower I hear the loudest bang on the door that I've ever heard. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. And I immediately turn off the water, wrap up in a towel. I peek my head out the door and say, "Oh my gosh! What is going on?" He is at the door looking through the peephole, and he just said, "It's going to be okay." And I was like, "What's going to be okay?" And he opens the door and a flood of police officers dressed in tactical gear, I'm talking like helmets, vests, big, big guns, knee pads, everything, and they just bombard him, like three of them take him down on the floor. He's on his stomach. They handcuff him, and this is just a two-bedroom, you know, apartment. And there had to be at least 15 of these huge people with guns and weapons. There's someone recording all of this. I guess his job was to record. They moved the furniture out of the way, flipping it over, looking under the couch. Flipped over the mattresses, moved the beds, I mean they tore up everything, and they were just bagging evidence, taking pictures, and I'm just standing there, no one's telling me what's going on, and I'm just speechless literally with my mouth open.
[00:03:54] Bob: Whitney has no idea what's going on. She'd met Greg less than a year ago through an online dating site, but they'd been dating seriously for more than six months. Greg took her on elaborate dates, bought her flowers so big they didn't fit on the dinner table. She'd kissed him on New Year's Eve in New York City. She helped him buy a house. They joined a country club together. But now, he's just sitting there on the couch -- in handcuffs not saying a word.
[00:04:25] Whitney Kirkpatrick: And it seemed like an eternity. I know it was probably only 2 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity, and I just stood there as he is just sitting on the couch, handcuffed, like nothing fazed him. And I am so confused. And it's like he was almost expecting it, the look on his face was more like, just like, darn it. And I'm over here like, what the hell? And eventually the police um, start questioning him. And there's one man that's not in tactical gear, he's in like um, a button-down business, you know, slacks, and he's got his sleeves cuffed up, just like on TV. Apparently, he was the, the head detective, the lead guy. And he's got his hands on his hips, and he's talking to Greg, and he's sitting on the couch, and he's like, "So do you want to tell her, or should I?"
[00:05:12] Bob: Tell her what, Whitney thinks.
[00:05:14] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Greg just puts his head down and he's like, "You've been stealing credit cards again, haven't you?" And Greg didn't say anything during this whole process. He's like, "You've been renting office space at such and such a place. You’ve been renting cars. You've stolen funds and going on. He just listed off all these things that apparently, they had been watching Greg do. And he got to The Four Seasons part and he's like, "We've been watching you since The Four Seasons since you wrote that check that you got from..." whatever job was his last job. So he's just listing off this laundry list of stuff that they had been watching him do, and just saying, they walked over to me and said, "He's not who you think he is."
[00:05:55] Bob: He's not who you think he is. Those words ring out in Whitney's ears. Her brain is working overtime trying to digest everything. Well, then who is Greg, she thinks, what has he been doing while I've known him all these months?
[00:06:11] Whitney Kirkpatrick: And they handed me a stapled together stack of papers that was copies of credit cards, like photocopies of credit cards. They said, "These are all the cards that he's opened in your name. You might want to take care of this." And it was about 12 different credit cards, photocopies of them, front and back, that all had his name on them, and that's what he had been using to get by was these 12 credit cards and maxing them all out.
[00:06:41] Bob: Slowly, the very blurry picture starts to come into focus. The beautiful cars, the huge bouquets of flowers, the trip to New York City, even the money he gave her at the casino to gamble with, well it was all her money. Greg had been living his entire life as if he was playing around in a casino with her money. He stole her heart, and then he stole her identity. This wasn't just a big game; it was a big crime. And Greg, well it seems like the police knew all about Greg.
[00:07:18] Whitney Kirkpatrick: And then they went into my bathroom and apparently, he had been taping things that he was trying to hide with duct tape under my sink to the back of the bowl. So you know you have your counter, the bowl dips down, so he had taped a bunch of mail and, and anything like, like um, late payment notices, he had taped them to the back of my sink for some reason. It's a huge stack, and the police took that down and they bagged that as evidence, and eventually they said, "You should probably get dressed," and they wouldn't even let me close the door, like to get dressed. So I had to kind of get dressed in front of a, a roomful of police officers. And I just threw on the closest dress I could pick up, and then they sat me down and, and just talked to me about how long they had been watching us which had been several months.
[00:08:11] Bob: Last episode we'd learned that Whitney had been getting strange phone calls, supposedly from creditors, during her overnight shifts at the hospital. It turns out they weren't what they seemed either. They were a test. The young couple had been under surveillance for a while.
[00:08:30] Whitney Kirkpatrick: They were like, "We know you went to the casino today. We watched you." They said, "Those phone calls you got while you were at work? That was us." And they said, "We had no idea if it was you and him, or just him. We were all going to gauge it upon your reaction and given that you almost fainted, we believe that you're not a part of this."
[00:08:49] Bob: As Whitney starts to put together the pieces of what the cops are telling her, well it's all too much.
[00:08:55] Whitney Kirkpatrick: It felt like my world was imploding on me. Like right in that instant, have you ever been in a situation where you get like tunnel vision? All of a sudden it kind of feels like everything around you goes dark. That's what I mean by like I felt like everything was imploding in on me. And everything was moving in slow motion around me because my brain couldn't process it fast enough. It was too much stimuli at once, and my brain could not process it. It was, that, that's why I didn't realize how frozen I was.
[00:09:35] Bob: After what seems like forever, the police finally gather up everything and start leading Greg out of the apartment and out of Whitney's life. Greg has nothing to say for himself.
[00:09:49] Whitney Kirkpatrick: And I was like, I, I was just speechless at this point. I, I had nothing left to say, and as they're wheeling him out, you know, they turn him to me and they said, "Do you have anything to say to him?" And all I could just say was, "Why?" That's, that's all I could say is must "why?" I don't know why anybody would do that. You know, and he just, he didn't say anything, he just walked off.
[00:10:18] Bob: And as he walks out the door taking most of the life she knew with him...
[00:10:23] Whitney Kirkpatrick: So I just kind of collapsed on the floor after everybody left, and my, my apartment was a mess. There was stuff everywhere. And I just cried. And I don't know, but my mom, I guess she has a mommy sixth sense, it was maybe 20 seconds after the police left and my mom called. And I just, I was bawling on the phone, and she said, "What happened?" And I just said, "It's all fake. It's all, it's, none of this is real. None of it's real."
[00:10:57] Bob: Whitney's mom, Claudia, remembers that phone call this way.
[00:11:01] Claudia Kirkpatrick: I do remember calling her. I don't know what prompted me to make the call, but I do remember calling her. And the thing I never forgot was that she said that she had said a prayer the night before for God to help her to handle this situation. That if Greg wasn't supposed to be in her life, that he not be in her life. And I said to her, "Well I'm so glad you decided to reach out for help." But when she told me the circumstances, I was so thankful.
[00:11:45] Bob: While Whitney talks to her mom, she slowly starts to calm down. And then, it dawns on her that she has some real problems on her hands. So Mom leaps into action.
[00:11:57] Claudia Kirkpatrick: Yeah, she was really scared. You know, she, um, she was crying, she was upset because she was worried that she was going to be implicated, oh, and the thing I immediately said um, to her was that we need to definitely get you down to the police department so you can give your statement about the whole situation, and fill them in on what's been happening with you and your relationship with Greg. So we did go down, and I did go with her to the police department.
[00:12:33] Bob: As she talks things over with police, Whitney starts to get even more details about everything that happened, the extent of how elaborate Greg's lie was slowly unfolds. Every part of her interactions with him was fake, was staged for her benefit.
[00:12:48] Whitney Kirkpatrick: The two main detectives, they kind of just ran down the story for my parents as well. They, they gave a little bit of background about his last arrest for impersonating police officers, for identity theft, that when he met me, he was using the identity of an elderly woman in California, and that's his money he had been spending to impress me in the beginning. And then when that ran out, he apparently, you know, started to get my identity through getting through my mail and take my Social, and opening up all those credit cards, hitting up the ATMs while I was at work, and that he wanted to sell me this relationship so bad that he set up all those fake Facebook pages with the fake friends, the fake recorded um, phone calls. It just, it just went on and on. The fake websites about his businesses. It just went on and on. And it was just shocking to just, just, just all have that all unfold. It was like being in a movie where the twist is, is being unveiled, and you just can't believe it because it's the last thing you expected. Like hey, you know, I know shady people, and people lie. People even steal. But to steal your identity, to create a whole lifestyle for this long and it's all been on your dime. I mean this, this required research and probably him asking in the mirror with that fake accent, you know, practicing the, the jargon with oil and gas to have these interviews with these people. I mean this required so much effort, and that's why I said, if he put the amount of effort he put into conning into actual real life like some sort of career, a lawyer or whatever, he would have been very successful. Because clearly, he had the stamina and the brains to do this.
[00:14:39] Bob: The office full of workers, fake. The awards and accolades online, Greg had posted them himself. Even a phone call Whitney had received from the governor, well that was staged. The dent in her car from last episode, well, Greg had been out joyriding, but not just joyriding mind you.
[00:15:00] Whitney Kirkpatrick: He also um, had a previous history of impersonating police officers. And he actually, I found out later, that he had taken my car, and driven and pretended to pull people over by placing a, uh one of those lights on top of the car, those magnetic, you set it up there, you flip it on, um, and was pulling people over. He would never actually get out and, and go talk to the people at the window, he would just drive off. But he did that one day and put a huge dent in the side of my car. And this was all at night. I guess this is what he did at night.
[00:15:35] Bob: So many of the odd events of the past year start to make sense now. Like how her checking account was raided, and how the criminal got her pin code.
[00:15:44] Whitney Kirkpatrick: He got my pin by looking over my shoulder at say the grocery store, or wherever you punch in your pin. You know, you're with someone you’ve been dating for a while, you're not really covering up your pin number anymore when you're at the grocery store. You just punch it in real quick, you're not looking to see if anybody's watching, especially the person that you expect to be standing next to you.
[00:16:05] Bob: He got all that money to spend, all that credit by intercepting her mail.
[00:16:10] Whitney Kirkpatrick: And I realized that whenever he would go get my mail for me, like all sweet boyfriends do, "Hey, I'm on the way up to your apartment, do you want me to grab your mail?" He would grab my mail and in it was a periodic reports for my retirement, and on those documents, like my Edward Jones documents, was my Social Security number. So that's how he got my Social Security number, and then by spending other time with me, he got all the other information he needed to go fill out these credit card applications. And he would always check my mail, and pull out anything related to a bill or the credit card statement itself, the actual cards. He would always do this for me, and I just thought that's what my sweet boyfriend did was grab my mail for me. But he was just sifting through it and finding things, um, and taking them out.
[00:16:59] Bob: The trap Greg laid for Whitney was incredibly elaborate.
[00:17:03] Whitney Kirkpatrick: There's even more, like he had Facebook profiles of supposed friends that were people in his life that were actually all him, and eventually, after we went on several more, you know, dates, friends would message me on, supposed friends would message me on Facebook and saying, "Hey, I know you don't know me. I requested to add you as a friend because I know you know Greg, and he talks about you all the time, and how we should meet you one day and you know, you make him so happy." And all the while, it was him claiming to be all these people. He pretended to be a campaign manager as well, somebody named Ed, and it was just a profile of, of some middle-aged man that he had stolen pictures and made a profile, a Facebook profile for. And this man was supposedly his campaign manager, and this person, Gregory actually pretended to run for office.
[00:17:55] Bob: Remember, Whitney took things slowly with Greg. She even met his family, but they were in on the elaborate ruse too.
[00:18:03] Whitney Kirkpatrick: I'm not sure how many months of dating after this happened, it was probably at least four or five, I eventually met his family. Because I later found out that he had done this to multiple women before me, that this was just a game he did, that the family was in on his act as well. What they would do was be very, very kind to the young lady and very welcoming. "We love you. Greg talks about you all the time." And I noticed that these, these people lived in not a very nice part of town, and their house on the inside had every latest electronic flatscreen TVs everywhere. Every gaming console, beautiful furniture, very, very, very nice, nice, nice extravagant things on the inside of this very um, I would say nearly dilapidated type of house. So, I later found out that they were in on being nice to the young lady, playing it up because they in return were rewarded for their cooperation with things that he purchased from these credit cards that he would get from whomever he was dating. He would steal the woman's identity, open up a bunch of credit cards. I guess the family would then get one of the cards, rack it up with whatever they wanted, and um, that was their prize for cooperating.
[00:19:25] Bob: Wow.
[00:19:26] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Yeah, it was a big thing. At one point I felt kind of sorry for him, because clearly the family took advantage of his, I think he has a mental illness, but um, clearly the family played him up and, and continued to ask him to do this um, instead of telling him that's not right.
[00:19:46] Bob: An elaborate hoax, but hardly a victimless crime. Even though police let her go and presumed her innocence, Whitney still had plenty of problems to deal with beginning with she almost lost her home.
[00:20:01] Whitney Kirkpatrick: The one thing that was lingering was the fact that he, again, was pretending to be a big fancy boyfriend, "Let me pay your rent, dear." So he was supposedly paying rent at my apartment with those hot checks that he had stolen, and thankfully, I have parents that have instilled in me, you know, the importance of saving. So what I would have paid in rent um, I just put in my savings account. So when the cops did come to my apartment, they said, "Do you know you're about to be evicted?" I said, "What?" I had no idea. They said, "Yeah, he's been taking the eviction notices off your door, uh but he's been paying your rent and with hot checks. So you're three months behind on, on your rent." So I immediately go down to the office, but they didn't believe me, like I, they wouldn't take my personal checks anymore, even though I said, "I could pay you in full and next month. Here you go." They would not take personal checks from me. They made me go get um, what is it called, a cashier's something, cashier's check.
[00:21:01] Bob: She had to spend a lot of time and energy undoing the financial damage and fixing her reputation.
[00:21:07] Whitney Kirkpatrick: I went into repair mode right after that because everyone that I met along the way, I felt it my responsibility to let them know what happened just in case they got taken advantage of. And so we started, my parents, my parents made sure that their retirement, that it hadn't been touched or any of their funds. I contacted people throughout the country club, and I was like, hey, here's what happened. I hope you guys didn't do any transactions with him or anything financial with him, and they're like, "No, we didn't," you know, "thanks for letting us know." I even um, reached out to a teacher he had told me he had had lunch with, one of his old choir or acting theater teacher from high school. Little old lady he had talked about. I said, "I really hope he didn't take advantage of you." And she was like, "Oh, thank you so much for telling me. He did talk to me about money, but you know we didn't make any transaction or exchanges, and I'm really glad I didn't now." And that was, that's what kind of filled up that hole, maybe it was a distraction for me to not have to deal with my reality, but I, I took it upon myself to go around to, to everybody that we had encountered to make sure that they hadn't been lied to. It turned out the police didn't even know about the house. They were just, I said, "What are you guys going to do about the house?" And they said, "What house?" So I had to tell them about the house, and take them to the house and show them and they um, they basically just put the house back on, back on the market, um, because a uh payment hadn't been due quite yet.
[00:22:44] Bob: She has to deal with cleaning up her credit too. Fortunately, that goes fairly quickly thanks to help from friends and the police.
[00:22:53] Whitney Kirkpatrick: You know, one thing that saved me was the fact that I had the police report. So when I called up Equifax and all of that, I said, "Hey, I've got this police report for this, this, and this." The woman sat on the phone with me and took everything off. We went through everything, and um, it was immediately rectified. Because I know that's not the case for everyone. A lot of people don't find out till later, they have no proof, and their credit is ruined, you know, their lives are ruined, but I felt really lucky. I know that sounds crazy to say, but it was, it was so rectifiable for me because the police told me what happened, and they caught him, and I had a police report and copies of each card that I needed to go and get taken off the list. And um, then I had extra protection put on my, my credit at that time.
[00:23:40] Bob: As for Greg, well his life really wasn't that bad, not yet anyway.
[00:23:46] Whitney Kirkpatrick: I did follow-up with the police. They told me he was sentenced to 9 months, that's the time he got, 9 months, uh in, in jail. And I heard he got out after 7.
[00:23:57] Bob: So he spent roughly 9 months living this amazing life.
[00:24:02] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Yes.
[00:24:04] Bob: And in exchange, he just had to spend 9 months in jail? That seems like a deal a lot of people would make.
[00:24:08] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Right, yeah, and what I've, what I've came to learn was there's these little petty crimes, uh what they call, I think it's, what is it, white collar crimes. Basically in the, in the legal world, he just lied. Yeah, he stole and did some... he, he just told one big lie, one big production versus we have people who are murderers and drug dealers. We need more space for murderers and drug dealers. People that just lie, steal identities, okay, you can leave early. So he got out. That wasn't his first stint in jail for identity theft. And the way I see it is he would just go back to jail to get better at his craft and talk to other con artists and figure out what he did wrong so he could be more successful the next time he did it. That's all I kind of saw jail as for him.
[00:24:56] Bob: Like a university.
[00:24:57] Whitney Kirkpatrick: A university. Con Art University. Hey, let me have a convention and a conference with 12 other con artists so we can compare notes.
[00:25:05] Bob: Greg would get out of jail, but trouble seems to find him everywhere, but nothing like the kind of trouble Whitney heard about recently when a long ago friend sent her a note that said, "Have you heard about Greg?" And then forwarded her a news story saying Greg had been arrested for allegedly murdering a young woman. Whitney immediately thought she had quite literally dodged a bullet.
[00:25:35] Bob: John Buzzard is the lead fraud and security analyst for Javelin Strategy and Research. He's been studying identity theft for a long time. We tend to think of identity theft as a problem that involves credit card fraud or a lot of paperwork headaches, but Buzzard says that more often than not, ID theft is much closer to home, sometimes as close as Greg was to Whitney and with equally terrible consequences.
[00:26:04] John Buzzard: Surprisingly, about 76% of the time identity fraud scam victims know their perpetrator. So not only do they remember the moment that they were victimized, they may know the individual from um, a social connection, someone within their trusted circle.
[00:26:21] Bob: Seventy-six percent of the time?
[00:26:23] John Buzzard: Isn't that surprising?
[00:26:25] Bob: That has my jaw on the ground. I mean three-quarters of the time when this happens you can kind of look around and say that that person did it to me?
[00:26:34] John Buzzard: That's an interesting number for sure. But you have to think about the fact that with an identity fraud scam, if I may define it a little bit, um, we have a couple of different methodologies here that we look at that I think you'll find a bit enlightening. When we look at traditional identity fraud, um, it can happen and victimize anyone. Um, you may simply discover the identity fraud problem when you're on with a financial loss, or maybe your financial partner calls you on the phone, or sends a letter and says, we have a problem at hand. But the nexus of it doesn't have any meaning. You, you don't know why you're victimized. But on the other hand, when we started to do research and look at how scams couple with the identity fraud piece in an identity fraud scam, those victims, 76% of them did indeed know or could recognize their perpetrator from social relationships, face to face contact, et cetera. So it's a very powerful, shocking number.
[00:27:38] Bob: Could you tell me why it's so common that, that victims are, know their criminals, that the criminals are in such, such proximity to their victims?
[00:27:48] John Buzzard: Well, most of the criminals who are perpetrating this sort of scam, I often refer to it as a long game. They are cultivating some sort of a relationship with their intended victim. Your mind immediately wants to say, well their mark, if you will. However, their victim, they're looking at a long period of time where they can cultivate a social relationship with their victim, and ultimately, the goal is to extract larger and larger financial prizes from that victim, whatever they may be. So there's this sort of necessity to have some type of either physical relationship, you know, sadly we, we hear so often of the kind of disconnected romance scam where it's an individual that's connected through a phone or a chat app or something like this. But obviously, personal, physical relationships also evolve into identity fraud situations. And again, it's proximity. Someone's coming into your circle, they have just enough time to capture some of your information, and if they stay a little bit, um, through a romantic relationship, then they're able to steal more and more of your identity, and manipulate you during that time period.
[00:29:07] Bob: So, so they have access to things that somebody over the internet might not. In Whitney's case, Greg was able to shoulder surf her pin code, or her debit card, for example, pretty easily. You would think someone you're dating, you know, pretty--, pretty quickly you pick up on a four-digit pin they're entering at every grocery store, right?
[00:29:24] John Buzzard: Well, absolutely. And I mean if you would invite me over to your home today, I would take my camera phone out when you aren't looking, and I would randomly photograph things that I thought were important, um, maybe when you popped up to get us a, a beverage or went to the restroom, uh, and then I could review all that later and decide what was valuable and what wasn't. So, from a proximity standpoint, maybe I spent 10 minutes visiting with you, but I was able to slide your identification out of your wallet, take a photo of it, put it back in there before you came back into the room. So, you know, technology, while it's wonderful, also really aids the criminals quite a bit.
[00:30:04] Bob: So technology often makes these crimes easier to commit. And when you add it all up, well it really adds up.
[00:30:12] John Buzzard: Let's just talk about the overall numbers for just a moment, because I think they're really powerful. Um, just with our last identity fraud study, Javelin Strategy and Research uh polled numbers, $56 billion in combined losses across traditional identity fraud and identity fraud scams, 49 million victims. Incredible numbers. Sometimes they go up, sometimes they go down, but with 2020 being a period of isolation, criminals moved into digital dark corners in order to take advantage of consumers. It's a problem. So be very careful. If you're a consumer that loves your social medial platforms, you're meeting new people, making business and personal relationships, listen to your inner voice. Take it slow. Remember these numbers as a reference point, because they might not be your loss numbers today, but they could be tomorrow. I think that's really the message I want to leave everybody with is, it could just be a matter of time. 49 million victims, that's, that's quite a lot.
[00:31:30] Bob: If it wasn't you last year, it might be you next year, right?
[00:31:33] John Buzzard: Absolutely.
[00:31:36] Bob: For Whitney, the healing from her crime took a while, says her mom.
[00:31:40] Claudia Kirkpatrick: I think there was a lot of self-doubt about making decisions about relationships that took her a long time to get beyond. Whitney holds her parents in pretty high esteem, and I think one of her major fears is that she would disappoint us, and that we would see her differently, and of course, you know, that's not true. It happens with everybody, but that is a major consideration for her. She's very close to us, and I think that if anything were to come up to make her feel that we thought less of her, that that would be a major thing for her. So it, I think that she was very hurt by the whole thing. I just, I mean just, she just felt, and I think we all felt a little shock and awe that he actually attempted this. I don't think you see it in people.
[00:32:45] Bob: Whitney says the big lesson she learned was to trust herself.
[00:32:49] Whitney Kirkpatrick: You should just listen to your gut. If something just doesn't seem right, or just doesn't make any dadgum sense, you should just listen to, to your gut. Why do you have a new rental car every other month? You know where did the last one go? How many wrecks do you keep getting into? You know, or, oh that one got stolen? Wow? Wrecked and stolen? I mean, it just didn't, in hindsight of course things stand out to me, but while you're going through it, you want to believe the person, and you have all these people in your life cosigning it, everybody's having a great time, so you kind of look, look past things, but never again.
[00:33:25] Bob: Whitney had pretty much put the entire experience behind her, deep in her mind until she heard about the alleged murder that Greg is accused of. That's how we started this story, last episode, explaining that Greg was recently accused of a gruesome murder. He allegedly shot a woman then shoved the dead body into a trash can and tried to hide it in a storage unit, according to a news story sent to Whitney by an old friend.
[00:33:53] Bob: Naturally, reading the story made Whitney feel like, well, that could have been her. Mom was really, really shocked to hear about the murder.
[00:34:03] Claudia Kirkpatrick: I was surprised. I was very surprised because learning that he was a con artist, and that he, the previous year was arrested for conning people. If you had said to me, do you think he's still conning people? I would have said yes, I, I think he's still conning people. But to murder someone? I just didn't see that coming at all.
[00:34:34] Bob: So how is Whitney now after reliving this whole experience?
[00:34:37] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Oh, now I'm, I'm, I'm wonderful. Um, you know, I've had several relationships since then, um that were, that were healthy and fine and I, I definitely um, for seven years I had extra protection put on my credit. I even actually did a commercial with LifeLock about uh this exact instance, and I did that because I had LifeLock on my, my credit and stuff like that. So um, so I'm just, just fine. Those of us that kind of knew him, and some of the people from the country club are still Facebook friends of mine, and I told them about it, and they were like, "We're just so glad that you, that, that you got away.
[00:35:15] Bob: I am so impressed that you're not really bitter.
[00:35:17] Whitney Kirkpatrick: Right (chuckles). Yeah, no, no, um, no, definitely, no, not bitter. Life's too short, and there's too much um, beautiful stuff in the world. Um, I've had a lot of, a lot of, a lot of health problems, so I have a very different perspective on life. I'm actually um, going through breast cancer treatment right now. And so I, I see life differently, like every day is a gift, so I am definitely not going to spend it being bitter towards someone who I encountered for a brief amount of time, uh, 10 years ago. You know, 9 months is really not that long when you look at the big picture of life. Instead of thinking about, oh, that happened to me, woe is me, like well, so what did I learn from it? What can I tell other people, so it doesn't happen to them? And that's why anytime anybody asks me to do like an interview like this, I'm totally willing to talk about it. So I just kind of take it upon myself to help other people so it doesn't happen to them. Maybe that's why my higher power allowed it to happen to me but got me out safe so I could tell other people the story. Yeah, it's nothing to be bitter about. It was an experience, I learned from it, and if anybody else can, can learn from listening to this podcast, if, if a woman hears this and decides to look that much deeper into the new guy they just met and they can avoid some of these pitfalls, then hey, it was worth it.
[00:36:43] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; Researcher, Haley Nelson; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree, and of course, our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.
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The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.
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