Mark Steel, an engineer from England who is a VP at Swe-Dish Satellite Systems in Sterling, VA, did something horrible to me, and the fallout from what he did still affects me years later.
In 2001, I placed an ad online for a wealthy philanthropist. I was desperate for someone to help me... a doctor had done the wrong surgery on me, operating on more than a dozen of the wrong parts of my body, causing pain & disfigurement, and throwing me into a deep depression. I lost my business because of the depression, I was a single mother who didn't get any child support, and I didn't have money for a lawyer to sue the doctor (because of California's limit on pain & suffering damages, lawyers here will only take catastrophic injury cases on contingency).
Mark answered the ad, telling me that he was very wealthy, having sold his high tech business for more than $50 million.in the days after the dot com boom in Silicon Valley, this was a believable story. He promised me a large sum of money as a gift, no strings attached, and he put that promise in writing. He said it would be just a couple of weeks before he would give me the money.
And every couple of weeks that was extended to a couple more weeks, but he always had very plausible explanations, and told me not to worry. Meanwhile, we started dating, and I grew to really care for him. (And later when it became clear that I might not get any money at all, I still wanted to see him, so it wasn't just about the money). The weeks grew to months, I was behind on my rent, but Mark kept promising me the money was going to be available soon. I told my landlord the situation that Mark told me, and he was kind enough to let my daughter and I stay even though I was months in arrears. There was enough of Mark's story that checked out, (he worked at Lumenis, and was a founder of a company called Uniigo) so at that point I still believed him, and I also had to believe him because of my situation and psychological state. Mark talked about taking me and my daughter back to England with him and talked about having a future together.
A friend of mine was very suspicious when I told him of all this, but I said to him that if Mark was lying to me, that would mean that he was an evil man to do this to me, and I couldn't believe that could be the case, so he had to be telling me the truth. Little did I know...
Mark told me that his soon to be ex-wife had a business that was being sued for product liability, and because of that his accounts were frozen. Later, I found out there was no such company. And the company that he supposedly sold for $50+ million did not exist either, nor did the $3 million house. From what I have since been able to trace, he lived in a modest apartment in downtown San Jose.
My daughter and I were finally evicted from our apartment. Mark was well aware of this - I talked to him as we were being evicted. But he still kept to his story. Because I needed money then and Mark was still assuring me that he would eventually give me the money, I settled with the doctor out of court, just accepting a modest amount of money. But 6 months later the most severe injuries became apparent, it turned out that I would need more than $75K for surgery, and the damage to my knees might be permanant. But now because I signed a release, I could no longer sue.
Mark did other things to me that can only be described as cruel psychological manipulation. Several times he would call and tell me to get ready, that he had a surprise trip planned for us, so I would pack and wait for him for hours, only to have him call at the last minute to say that he was so sorry, he was called away on business. Other times he would tell me he had a present for me, but that he had forgotten to bring it with him, but the present was never mentioned again.
Finally I found evidence of Mark's lies, and I confronted him and told him I was going to expose him to his family. He then told me that he had just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. At first I didn't believe him, but being the masterful liar that he is, he finally convinced me that it was true. (You may think that I'm an idiot, but if you have never been a victim of a con artist, you don't know how skillful they are at playing you).
Well, now Mark seems to have made a miraculous recovery from death. I found him recently on the internet and discovered that he had this job with Swe-Dish. I told him how horrendous my life has been since I last saw him in 2002. I have had 11 painful surgeries, I still need 3 or 4 more, none of them are covered by insurance because they are considered experimental. I am still in constant pain, I can hardly sleep, but for 6 years I have had to work 7 days a week just to pay for more surgery. I asked him for $50K to pay for my surgery, which is a small fraction of what he originally promised me, but he has ignored my request.
So I think everyone should be warned about what this man is really like. What kind of man takes advantage of a desperate single mother?