Wanted: Gullible Lawyers I was hired over e-mail. A boss I never met promised me $14,000 a month. How could I fall for that?

Illustrations by Robert Meganck

This is the story in which you learn how a graduate of Columbia Law School—that’s me—and almost 80 other people, who really should have known better, got suckered into giving away all our personal details as well as up to two months of our lives for “jobs” that never actually existed. And then you learn why it all happened the way it did.

How I Got Involved With The Scam

An intriguing Craigslist job ad turned up on June 21 of this year at a time when I was feeling particularly bleak. I had spent the better part of that morning losing at online Scrabble and wondering if I had enough money to get a small falafel for lunch. Here is the ad; if you had been in my shoes, you’d have perked up at it, too:

Our financial information research company is going to be temporarily adding 15 top tier legal minds to our staff in order to conduct an intensive due diligence and legal research project in Washington DC. We are hiring individuals who are independent and can work from their home office and local law libraries yet can still be accountable to a team and are available to begin immediately. Areas of law that will be utilized during this project are: corporate, mergers & acquisitions, intellectual property, securities, contract (product licenses), and copyright law. Conducting time sensitive world class research, writing memos to upper management, and the production of contract drafts and strategic partnership and licensing proposals will be required.

Only the best need apply. $21k for full time June 25 - Aug 20 employment. Again, only the best need apply.

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I might not be the best, but I was desperate. I e-mailed my résumé along with a hopelessly earnest cover letter that extolled my superior research skills and my ability to keep even the most salacious secret. I was sure I’d get the job.

But after a week, I hadn’t heard anything. I left D.C., where I was staying on a leaky air mattress with a friend who kept asking when I could contribute my share of the rent, and went back to my parents’ house in Rhode Island, where I took my dog for walks on the neighborhood beach and cried a lot. I had just come back to America after living overseas for five-and-a-half years on Saipan, a small tropical island near Guam. On Saipan, I had work and a great apartment. For some reason I thought I’d slip into a fully formed life back in America, too, one where my novel, which I’d taken the last year off to write, would be sold right away. But it didn’t happen, none of it happened, and I was having a crisis.

And then on June 30, I got this e-mail (edited slightly):

Good Evening:

Additions to our original 15 team members are immediately necessary as our company has decided to move forward with a full fledged…effort related to a large scale and confidential business combination within the financial information industry.

We are seeking 45 team members to assist in several areas. This project is difficult, important, special, and unique. The compensation has been set at 14k per month for 2 months. From what we have read about your history we believe you have demonstrated the ability to deliver on the level required of our team members.

If you are immediately available please respond to this e-mail with a statement that speaks to your ability to fanatically devote your entire intellectual acumen to this endeavor over the next 8 weeks. In your response include your potential team assignment preference from the following areas: Intellectual Property; Contracts & Negotiations; Technical Writing; Due Diligence; Leadership (both proven and untested)....

If your response strikes us as exceptional we will contact you and provide more information about our company and the assignment.

Thank You.
Hillary Newman
Office of the General Counsel

This e-mail struck me as extremely weird. How could I sell myself as someone who would devote two months of my extremely valuable intellectual acumen to this project, when I didn’t know what this project was?

Never mind. I wrote another painfully sincere e-mail to Hillary Newman saying that I was smart and hardworking and had two months free for the project, and I pretty much figured that was the end of it —time to sulk and drink again—except that four days later, I got an e-mail inviting me to join the company as a member of their legal team (duties, according to the e-mail, included negotiating and drafting contracts, as well as doing some other things I did not know how to do).

In this e-mail, I got an employment contract, too, reiterating the $14,000-a-month salary. The first month’s pay would come in two-and-a-half weeks. The contract was between me and two companies—one called the Global Speculator, located in McLean, Va., and another called the Alulim Willow Property Group whose headquarters, the contract said, were in India.

A Google search revealed that the Global Speculator had a placeholder Web site, theglobalspeculator.com, and there was nothing about Alulim Willow Property Group. The Internet had nothing to say about Hillary Newman or the person who was supposed to sign my contract, either, a person named James P. Cook.

This lack of Internet-accessible information was also weird. The fact that I would be hired to do this work without an interview seemed weirder still. But none of it was enough to make me delete the e-mail, not with $14,000 a month at stake and me so desperate for an income and my own place to live.

I said to my mother, “Mom, to me this feels like I’ve met someone on the Internet, and I think maybe I want to go on a date with him, and he’s asking where I want to register for our wedding.”

And my mother said, a light in her eyes, “You think you might get married soon, too?”

The Scam Begins

I signed the contract. I also filled in my Social Security number on tax forms and wrote out my bank account number on a direct-deposit form. I faxed these documents to someone called Margaret, the company’s chief administrator, who (Google told me) may have been in some legal trouble in Qatar and who also shared a fax number with a hardware store in Maine. When my brother—also living with my parents at this time (they were so proud) —suggested that I might not want to give away my identity so easily to people of questionable provenance, I reminded him that there was no money in my bank account to steal, and my identity was also, at the time, pretty worthless.

“Someone wants to be me?” I said. “Bully on them.”

But instead of someone taking my identity and running, I got a company e-mail account. Its existence seemed to indicate that the Global Speculator was a real thing; the fact that Margaret sent out instructions that we were each to come up with a motivational quote and use it in our company e-mail signature line seemed obnoxiously validating, too. Who but a real live bureaucracy would have a rigid e-mail signature line policy? I still had no work to do, still had no idea who I was working for, but I did spend a good long time coming up with my signature line quote, and finally I decided on lyrics from a John Denver song, “The Hitchhiker”:

Where you’re headed I don’t mind
I ain’t been there in some time
And it’s just exactly where I want to go.

Other people’s quotes were by Einstein and Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, and deep down I knew that any company that would let me use this John Denver quote in my signature line could not possibly be a real company, but at the time I just liked feeling sassy and employed.

On July 9, the team had a conference call, which I took in my pajamas, sitting on the floor in my parents’ living room. The call was led by a man named Gerald Edward, who identified himself as the Global Speculator’s acting chief operating officer. Gerald Edward had a deep, intelligent, arrogant voice. He told us that the Global Speculator was going to be a new Web site that would bring comprehensive information about investing in every country in the world to small-money investors. This Web site was going to revolutionize investment opportunities, he said, by putting important information about world markets in front of billions of eyeballs.

This idea seemed just dull and practical enough to be highly profitable. But what of getting paid? Gerald Edward said that the company had $50 million to spend before the end of the summer, but that the funders wanted to remain anonymous for now, so we could not be given their identities or more information than what we had. I thought, naively but not unreasonably: Maybe startups are like this?

This lack of information was disquieting, but the Global Speculator team was reassuring: lawyers, researchers, writers, computer programmers, designers, administrators, executive assistants, and the one mathematician named Kermit, some of whom had been working since early June, when I first saw the Craigslist ad. And I trusted the wisdom of the group: There were almost 80 people working on this project. That is a lot of people, too many for everyone to be as silly and desperate as me. Surely someone in the group had a good reason to be there, and I thought I’d ride along on their coattails. Plus, one of my new co-workers was, it turned out, someone I’d worked with on Saipan, and I marveled at this reassuring coincidence; I knew this guy was smart, and if he was willing to believe that this was a legitimate enterprise then perhaps it really was. Unfortunately, I think he might have applied some of that reasoning to me.

Soon after the call, my first assignment came in. The work was tedious, much like a real job. I had to research a bunch of things about investing in a long list of Central European countries: Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and so on. Do they have stock markets? What sorts of equities and bonds are available in those markets? Do they have foreign exchange markets? Money markets? Fixed-income investment opportunities? Are there laws governing foreign investment in these things?

Of course, the reason this Global Speculator Web site seemed like a good idea in the first place was because there wasn’t any place on the Internet where you could go get answers to these questions. Most information about investing in, say, Slovenia, was not in English. I do not speak Slovenian. But I got up every day and answered the morning message sent out by an executive assistant—she’d e-mail and say, “This is your morning Roll Call!” and I’d reply “Good morning! I’m here!”—and then I’d spend eight or 10 or 12 hours on my computer trying to find out what a fixed-income investment opportunity is and how you’d know if Slovenia offered one.

This work, quite frankly, sucked. By now you know that money is not my strong suit; researching the intricacies of foreign investment in Central European countries was very much outside my ken. But I am a lawyer, and I have been asked—by legitimate clients, even—to do lots of work that is outside my ken. That is what you do when you’re a lawyer. You figure out how to learn what you don’t know, and you quickly become an expert in new, tricky fields. Haven’t you ever noticed that lawyers know everything?

And besides, whenever Slovenia’s investment opportunities were too obscure, I thought about the money. Fourteen thousand dollars a month. Even a fraction of that could get me an apartment, a haircut, some new clothes, student loan payments, tickets to Kuala Lumpur…

I tried to keep my expectations in check. I called this my “job” in scare quotes and laughed and said that I thought one day my “boss” would steal my “identity.” Whenever I talked about the Global Speculator with friends or with my parents, I always made sure to say that I still didn’t know enough about this whole thing to be sure I’d really get the money. But I was sure I’d get it. This work was too hard, too ordinary, and I needed the money too badly, to go uncompensated.

Plus, I thought, no one would ask for all that personal information and steal our identities only to keep us working on this dull project while they had a good time using our brand new credit cards. They’d get our Social Security numbers and run.

And I had another thought: Who indeed would be stupid or brazen enough to hire all these lawyers and then cheat them out of money?

My brother said, “You know, it’s that kind of cockiness that would make someone brazen enough to cheat a bunch of lawyers. You all think no one would cheat you, so you let down your guard.”

OK, but still, I reasoned, let’s say it is a plan to cheat us: What’s the payoff? What would they do with all this research on Slovenia’s investment opportunities if this Web site weren’t for real? What could anyone do with all this work that would make it worth going through the trouble of cheating us?

It was this dead-end question that gave me the most confidence of all. I could not fathom what the point of all this would be if it weren’t for what Gerald Edward said it was.

The Scam Gets Loopier, And We Do Not Notice

On July 19, my 34th birthday, we had another conference call, and during it Gerald said that the Global Speculator was going to try to get the Bancroft family, which owned Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, to sell to the Global Speculator instead of to Rupert Murdoch. “They don’t want to sell to Murdoch,” Gerald said in his deep, intelligent, arrogant voice. “They’ll want to sell to us because we’ll let them keep control—we just want to unify our businesses.”

Gerald said he had a meeting with the Bancrofts in a week, and that he’d need us to work at full speed to put together a packet of materials that he could bring to them. We needed to get the Web site put together; we needed our country research to be finished. I was tasked with figuring out the top financial Web sites in the world and then writing scathing critiques of them. I was supposed to write about how these sites purported to be sources of objective financial information, but that in fact they were in the business of delivering consumers to advertisers, no more and no less. (The Global Speculator was going to distinguish itself by not accepting advertising. It was going to fund itself with subscriptions, at $5 a pop.)

“Are you sure this is what Gerald wants?” I asked the lawyer who was coordinating this part of the project. “This is kind of hackneyed stuff. I mean, it’s an old argument that any media with advertisers isn’t really objective, but it isn’t a very powerful argument.”

“I’m sure,” she said. “Just write it.”

There wasn’t time to agonize over hackneyed and spurious critiques, anyway. Gerald had us working until the wee hours of the morning on his project; he had us working on the weekends. While we lawyers did our work, designers worked on the logo, programmers worked on functionality, Kermit the mathematician did something (I never found out what). I was very happy that I would soon have my own place to live, since I was now officially too old to be blowup-bed surfing or living with my parents. The materials all came together. By Monday evening, they looked wonderful. We had gelled as a team and had made something to be proud of—the 79 of us worked together, from our homes and in our pajamas, day and night until we had a handsome logo, some specious but tough critiques of our competitors’ sites, and a pretty package for the Bancrofts. At least we thought we did.

The Scam Ends, And We Notice But Do Not Understand

Gerald’s meeting with the Bancrofts was supposed to take place the afternoon of Monday, July 23. Our first payday was to be the next day. When I woke up on that Tuesday, before I had my coffee even, I checked my bank account online to see if I was richer by $14,000. And, of course, I was not. My mom found me furiously scanning the New York Times business section for perhaps the first time in my life and asked if I had gotten paid or knew what happened with the Wall Street Journal. I screamed at her to leave me alone.

By midmorning about 4,000 e-mails had gone around among the unpaid Global Speculator staff. Many of these e-mails alleged that this whole project had been a scam. These e-mails had the word “SCAM” followed by five exclamation points as their subject lines. But I insisted to my co-workers that this was not the case. What was the scam, if this was one? Why would we have done all this? For nothing? Moreover, how could I have done all this boring work and be as bad off as I had been when it started? Did this mean no Kuala Lumpur? No falafel?

Gerald sent an e-mail to everyone late in the day. He said that the money was being wired into our accounts and should be there by Thursday at the latest. Or maybe a few day after that. This delay, he said, was a normal payroll glitch, an administrative problem that could happen with any new company.

On Thursday, July 26, I got an e-mail from the embassy of one of the countries I’d been researching. I had e-mailed them a week or so earlier to ask for some information, and they had just responded. I forwarded the message to Gerald, with a note that said, “Do you still need this information?”

Gerald wrote back: “Of course we need the info! You are a valuable member of the team Arin. I’m looking forward to everybody getting back to work on Monday.”

“Me, too,” I wrote back. “It’ll be nice when this drama is over.” I really hoped that the drama would end soon, and, well, it felt so good to get this little bit of praise from my boss, who was probably not going to pay me the money I so badly needed.

In the next few days, most of the Global Speculator team continued to e-mail one another. One especially clever lawyer sent a message asking for everyone’s personal address so that, in case the company system was shut down, we could coordinate our efforts in getting paid. There were hundreds of e-mails about calling the police and changing bank account numbers and even some heartbreaking missives that just said: “Why?” It was depressing beyond words to get terrified, angry e-mails from co-workers that were followed by motivational quotes like this one:

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.—Abraham Lincoln

On Saturday, July 28, we had not gotten paid, and Gerald sent an e-mail to the group, saying that our pay would be to us by Monday, and that we would resume work after that. We never heard from Gerald Edward again.

I did continue to hear from my fellow dupees, who expressed a panoply of sad and predictable emotions: hope that our project would continue and our pay would eventually come, shock that this had fallen apart after all the work we’d done, fear that our personal information—our Social Security numbers and bank account information—would be sold to terrorists. People said they were really suffering. At least one woman, an executive assistant in the Ozarks, had bought a car with the promised money. A writer in St. Louis had quit one job and turned down another based on this job’s excellent pay.

They were having trouble sleeping and didn’t know who to trust anymore, which before long led to members of the team accusing other members of the team of having been complicit. The lawyers, especially, took a beating on this front. Some of our teammates said it was understandable that writers and executive assistants and even mathematicians named Kermit had been duped, but it was unbelievable that the lawyers hadn’t done a better job of making sure that Gerald Edward and the Global Speculator were on the up-and-up before we’d all become so involved. As criticisms go, it seemed spot-on.

And yet the evidence had all been there from the beginning, for anyone—not just lawyers—to see, and it was this obviousness that made me feel worst of all. This job had so clearly been all wrong from the start. We were going to buy the Wall Street Journal? Come on!

But I understood why I’d let myself get caught up in it all the same. This work had represented my freedom. It had been a powerful wish-fulfillment fantasy, albeit one that involved too much time thinking about Slovenia’s equities market. My dreams of haircuts and Kuala Lumpur and paying off my student loans and buying health insurance…all dashed, leaving me with the same banal reality I’d returned from the tropics to face.

My mother loaned me some money, and I moved back to my very understanding friend’s apartment in D.C. I signed up to do legal temp work. It was not the free-spirited, work-in-pajamas existence I had hoped for and it did not leave me a lot of time to work on my next novel, but it was OK.

When it comes down to it, I realized I had not lost all that much, except, of course for my dreams, my pride, and a few weeks of my time. And I gained something else: a distinct, somewhat academic interest in what had happened to us. I wanted to understand why Gerald Edward had us working like educated dogs, all for nothing.

The Answer, I Think

The group of 79 “employees” splintered up into smaller groups. I was part of a group of eight Global Speculator types, mostly lawyers but a couple of writers, too. This group wanted to file a lawsuit against Gerald Edward and Global Speculator. It was hard to think much about getting money from the Global Speculator at this point; it felt like another fantasy. For me, the attraction of the group was being able to talk some more about it with people who understood this fiasco from the inside. We were in daily contact. We each did what we could to track down leads. It was mostly unavailing until July 31 when Margaret—you will remember her as the chief administrator for the Global Speculator, the person who had spent time in Qatar—sent a message to us all saying that she had known this was a scam for a few days longer than the rest of us and that she had agonized over telling us what she knew. She felt guilty, she said, and to assuage this guilt, she sent us Gerald’s e-mail password, which happened to be: fooledyou. Well, indeed.

Gerald’s account was full of leads. For example, there was some pretty compelling evidence from several documents and bills that Gerald’s real name was John McDonald. We also found some evidence that Gerald/John had met with investors in Boston and that a suspiciously similar-sounding John McDonald had been arrested in Boston for securities fraud committed in Maryland a few years back (when we spoke with people at the Maryland prosecutor’s office about this coincidence, they said they thought our Gerald Edward and their John McDonald might be the same person, but they were still trying to confirm it).

There were some addresses, too, including one on Massachusetts Avenue, one in the 1400 block of 6th Street NW and another in the 1000 block of 11th Street NW. I went there and knocked on doors and left notes, but did not find John McDonald or Gerald Edward or the Global Speculator.

I enjoyed this part of the job more than I’d liked the Slovenia part of it—this was fun, if still perplexing. Boy, had we been stupid! But now we were gaining information, bit by bit, small-time detectives on the trail of our cleverly fraudulent employer.

My splinter group sent around updates and messages of support and we got to know one another well in the process. I heard about the reasons these others had gotten involved with the Global Speculator, despite its whiff of fraud from the start: One person had treated the job like a poker hand, deciding that even if the odds of being paid were low, the potential payoff was great enough to go ahead and do the work; another person had seen the Global Speculator as an excellent excuse for quitting a job he’d hated for a long time; yet another, a lawyer in his 60s, had just sold his long-time business and was looking for something to keep him feeling engaged.

The group got together for drinks at Mackey’s Public House downtown and traded theories about what John McDonald had really wanted from us. Maybe our work was being used to lure investors, and John McDonald was going to steal the investors’ money. The lawyer in his 60s offered up the possibility this was an elaborate prank designed to embarrass the lot of us—a sort of “see what I can get you to do based on no more than a Craigslist ad.” None of these reasons rang true with me, and when the e-mails among the group mostly stopped—which they did, in mid-August as people got new jobs and stopped caring so much about those two-and-a-half weeks in July—I kept looking through Gerald/John’s e-mails. A lawsuit was filed by the splinter group against Gerald/John eventually, but I was no longer interested in the money; I just wanted to understand why. And while there is a lot I still don’t know and might never know, I do think I came to understand why this all happened.

In mid-August, about a month after it began, I was once again perusing Gerald/John’s e-mail, looking for overlooked clues. I found one: a July 27 e-mail from Gerald/John’s account to a strange gmail address. The e-mail simply told the recipient, Sheena, to give the two attached documents her undivided attention; the attachments were more revealing.

The first document was called “Read This First.” Here’s an edited version of what it said (edited only because John McDonald is clever but verbose):

To My Cherished Mademoiselle:

Before we die we must accomplish something unequivocal for the benefit of this planet. I can imagine all of the great letters that have been written....

This is one of those great letters....

We can’t organize a benefit concert or have people wearing T-shirts with a slogan or just be very articulate and public about “what is wrong with the world.”...I know exactly what we have to do, literally. It’s not rocket science, in fact rocket science itself is not that complicated....

What I will propose to you is just that, you and I fixing global poverty, not writing books or giving interviews or any bullshit, just getting it done....

Wasn’t your family’s patriarch a great general? Your family legacy comes from a man of action. The world is at War Sheena, and on the heels of an even greater World War. You must become the smartest, most savvy, cunning and intelligent woman on the planet. Right now. You have gone through all of the necessary stages that each hero must go through before they must save their people.…

Plain English we need to own a global consulting company and a global bank. Not a bank to help the poor, just a great global bank. New cities need to be built, and cities aren’t built without banks.…

Now think of India. Imagine if in 18 months you could raise any amount of capital for projects that could employ (and capture the imagination of) hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine if you could do it and still live a calm life. Imagine the sense of pride within your family of you actually doing something.…

I have designed a global financial information tool that tens of millions of people will find useful. These individuals will pay for $5 per month for the tool and we will have the initial capital required to invest in a bank. I have recruited a great team of bright minds to build the tool. I have hired a team of great attorneys to execute my plan (for the tool).

Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy Dow Jones, Inc. the parent of the Wall Street Journal. The current owners are debating whether or not to sell. Think about it, they see goofy kids get $6 billion for their website companies and Rupert will only offer $2 billion for “The Wall Street Journal.” They are seeking an alternative solution to their money needs and long term wealth creation strategy. They know that there is untapped value in the Internet, they just have no imagination. My attorneys have prepared an analysis of the Bancroft’s finances, it is attached.…

I have all of the people in place; I just need a true and able confidant who can help me orchestrate the transition. This will require you flying around the country with me meeting with investors and prospective permanent executives and content partners. I will be behind the scenes yet be your closest aide.…I have shared with nobody my designs for a global consulting company and bank. You are the only one that knows. I trust you with my own life purpose hoping you are the kindred spirit whom will fly with me. You are the artist; I am the beam of light.…

You promised you would work with me. I need you to be interim CEO for a few weeks while we raise money and recruit permanent executive leadership. It would be very sexy for you to have created a quick $50 million of your own on something that was corporate, intelligent, and global, especially at your age. Your poise and eloquence applied to this project will represent it in the way I need for the completion of Phase I.

I know that you are busy and living your life but this is the most intelligent and well thought out purposeful activity you could engage yourself in…

The next document, called “Read This Second,” was the material we had put together for the Bancrofts, with the embarrassing critique about financial Web sites that allow advertising. The header read:

The Global Speculator
Preliminary Private Placement
Memorandum EXHIBIT
And CONFIDENTIAL REPORT
PREPARED FOR:
Sheena K.G.

Our names, the lawyers of the group, were also on the front page. So much for the Bancrofts. So much for not being associated with the specious critique. So much for all I thought I’d known and understood, which was not, admittedly, much. I suddenly knew what this whole Global Speculator project had been: It was a love letter, to the Cherished Mademoiselle Sheena K.G.

I e-mailed Sheena at her gmail address to ask if I could call her to talk about John McDonald. She responded that that would be OK. We talked a day later as I walked back to my generous friend’s apartment from my temp job.

Sheena, a 23-year-old who asked that her last name not be printed, says she met John McDonald on a bus in Georgetown three or four years ago. She bummed a smoke off of him; he started calling her every six months or so to hang out and get a cognac.

Sheena says John McDonald is in his late 20s or early 30s. She says he’s charismatic and used to be handsome, though he was looking hard and worn when she saw him last. When he would turn up to meet her for cognac, it was usually late, and he was wearing a tuxedo, which did not faze Sheena because she figured D.C. is the kind of place where you might be wearing a tuxedo on any given night. She hadn’t seen John McDonald in a long time, though, because she’d been in India, where her parents were from, and had gone from India to Oklahoma to teach school.

Sheena told me that John McDonald always called her from different phone numbers; he was also always changing e-mail addresses. It didn’t bother her because she didn’t want anything from him and, she said, her life had a lot of strange people in it who just came and went. John was always telling lies, though, and Sheena said it did bother her that he never thought she was smart enough to see through them. One time he told her that he was doing fundraising for a ballet company and had raised $30 million in three weeks, which she knew wasn’t true; it wasn’t even possible.

Sheena got John’s e-mail asking her to be the CEO of the Global Speculator and never responded. She could tell that the project was ridiculous and impossible, and she found it insulting that he would even suggest she might be CEO of any company that had anything to do with finance. “I studied poetry,” she said to me.

I told Sheena my new theory, that John McDonald had concocted this whole scheme in order to woo her, that wooing her was the point of everything—of my researching Slovenia’s equities laws, of us ripping apart the Motley Fool for accepting advertising, of the 79 administrators, lawyers, researchers, writers, and the mathematician named Kermit working so hard on such boring work, turning down other work opportunities, giving up their intellectual acumen, picking up then dropping so many fantasies of how the money would make our lives OK. It was for love.

“What do you think?” I asked her.

“He did always hit on me,” Sheena said. “But I’m gay.”

Our Readers Say

wow.
Jobs today in the legal field have bceome some of the most unstable jobs in America and only a flaming asshole would shoot for such.

Lawyers are scumbags to begin with so you must proceed from that as ground zero.

The sad fact is, 95% of all legal related jobs are in truth temporary even if the ad for such says otherwise.

The reason being is, too many people are coming out of school with law degrees and employers know it so it is an employer's market and they milk that fact by never offering permanent nor stable jobs. Most lawfirms use agencies to do their hiring and we know that 98% of all jobs employment agencies offer are short termed.

Until the number of law school grads goes down and their is a shortage of lawyers will the jobs in this filed once again be real jobs.

Supply and demand is what is fueling the fraus and bad job offers.
Whew, great story. Love the ending. Would love to read your books.
This is amazing. Having worked in law firms since 2001, I agree that all legal jobs are temporary. I disagree that all lawyers are scumbags. But that's just my opinion (for the record, I am not a lawyer). That this John MacDonald would go through all the trouble for a love letter is really quite touching, had he NOT duped 79 hard working people. This is one very lonely and sick soul.
My father killed people in World War Two. He never talked about it. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Veterans Affairs Hospital doctors this year. I used to think he was just another asshole in my life. But now, in the winter of his life, I can say that I am not mad at him anymore. I just feel so sorry for him. And I feel the same way for this John MacDonald. Good luck, lawyer. This is the right town for your industry. My position was eliminated last week and I am so relieved. I go to another road in another town to trudge my happy destiny. And I am glad of it. I shall miss Washington. I may return with a college degree, but in the meanwhile, I will miss it.
First thought: Distrust anyone who uses the word "utilize."

Second thought: It's always weirded me out how similar the writing style of many "real" businessmen is to that of crazy people: the same half-understood jargon enthusiastically deployed, the same arrogant disregard for grammar, the same wild exuberance and odd inspirational quotes. I've met several heads of legitimate startups who were just like John MacDonald, only they'd somehow convinced people to give them money. (And I suppose that's all that makes a startup "legitimate" in any case - scam or no scam, they're gambles.)

Maybe you really couldn't have known... at least not until they started trying to buy the WSJ.

I love your portrayal of Sheena's baffled indifference. I move you assemble a crackerjack team of publicists, editors, and taggers to promote your novel so that we can all read it. Payment upon publication, of course.
wow, you must be the stupidest person out of columbia if you believed a start-up with $50M would be able to even be heard placing a less than 1% offer.

seriously, you should be thanking this guy for not identity thefting you, dumb dumb.
I posted this same comment on Ms. Greenwood's blog, but felt it important to post it here, as well, in hopes of alerting as many people as possible. The name of the "company" which employed me was "Networx Business IT Solutions", aka "Networx Cabling Services", aka "several other aliases" out of Raleigh, NC, and the person who hired me was Scott Strother (sometimes he said he was the operations manager, sometimes he said he was the owner). I would advise extreme caution to any computer technician ever contacted by this fellow. Comment left on Ms. Greenwood's blog is as follows:


Hi Arin,

My name is Mike, and I, too, was duped by a company that hired me over a craigslist posting.

Over the course of a month (May 17th through June 18th) I worked as an on-site field technician, doing warranty repair work for a company that supposedly subcontracted to a subcontractor of Dell Computer. I completed over 80 calls at such places as Northrop Grumman, SAIC, and Booze Allen Hamilton, troubleshooting and repairing their personal computers. What I didn’t know, however, was that this subcontractor was all a sham, with a phony office address, phony business number, and everything. After I eventually quit, and researched more about the “company”, I found out the person who hired me was actually working out of his home, a home which was later foreclosed upon (I saw it listed on a foreclosure web site), and numerous other lies he told me began to surface. The worst part was when I was contacted by another former employee, who was in the exact same situation as I was. We were constantly stonewalled about our pay, they’d tell us “two more weeks”, or “after you fill out these forms”, stuff like that, and eventually they just stopped returning our calls and e-mails.

To date I am owed more than $2,000, and my fellow employee (no telling how many more of my fellows are out there, since we were all so de-centralized) is owed more than $6,000.

I have a stack of paperwork, including dozens of pages of official Dell paperwork, verifying that I did the work, and am in the process of filing an “unpaid wage claim” with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. Apparently this person who I worked for is a well-known scammer to their office.

I was a recent college graduate when I took this position, hoping to make some quick money to pay off school bills. Instead, I’m now facing bankruptcy, and have thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt.

The worst thing is, Dell doesn’t even care about our situation, nor does DecisionOne, the subcontractor who my company received its work through (DecisionOne gets the work from Dell, and we in-turn got it from them). Dell didn’t even respond to my attempts to contact them, and DecisionOne said “We paid your company, it’s up to your company to pay you”, without any regard to the fact that one of their subs was ripping off its employees.

And I don’t even know how many other people were treated this way.

Anyhow, I just finished reading your article, and I’d really like someone to talk to about this situation. Is there anyone you can recommend? And thank you, so much, for making other people aware of rip-off artists like these.
So this is what the increasingly insignificant City Paper has come to: They gave a cover story to someone who at best is naive and at worst is a complete moron. Seriously, how did you graduate from law school? Did you start using the Internet last year? Hasn't anyone in your 34 years ever told you to never, EVER, freely give away your personal information over the Internet? I realize you were in somewhat desperate straits, but your actions crossed the line to complete idiocy.
Most fascinating article I've ever come across in the City Paper.
Arin,
please keep writing, you make the story come to life, I could see in my mind every person that you described, I could live every moment. Thank you for writing, please don't stop.
Great story! Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but one hell of a story. People calling you an idiot are missing the point: there are times in everyones lives that you do stupid things. Just learn from them and move on. Thanks for the nice read!
I'm shocked to find myself posting a comment -- something I never do. But Arin, I owe you praise for your article. Indeed, keep writing.
I enjoyed this post thoroughly. You obviously had some self esteem issues at the time you took the offer (against your own better judgment by the sounds of it). The fact that you are able to post this very well written story indicates you learned a valuable lesson that you needed to share with as many people as possible. Your candidness is appreciated, thank you.

Best Regards,
Robert Love
Glad this story appeared in a free publication...I'd never pay to read it.
A very good read, thank you. But, yeah, your judgment was pretty bad. So, while you may well have rewarding future career in writing, I hope you find yourself an agent you can trust. Your brother, maybe.
I can't believe some of the crass comments from people. I enjoyed the article a lot and I'm impressed by Arin's courage to tell the world what happened to her.

A well-written and thought-provoking article from start to finish. Well done, Arin.
Wow, amazing story. I think some of these posts are very unfair. I would kill for such a good story to tell. I've always admired people like the author. He's little unconventional, sure, but more adventurous personality than idiot. In the article he clearly states that he's skeptical but that he doesn't have much to lose. And the way he spins misfortune into an article that is pure genius is, frankly, envy inducing.

Unlike the author I have a decent paying, secure job, but one without challenge or respect. Every day I fool myself into thinking that what I am doing is meaningful or will be appreciated, even though I know it's not. How different is my situation from the author's--really?
Shittiest work of fiction I've seen in a while. Keep trying. You at least fooled 16 retards so far that believe your story is true so I give you credit for that.
A very fine piece of work. I enjoy Ms. Greenwood's writing style, her flair for the dramatic, and most of all her self-deprecation. But, I must say that I think the author missed an opportunity to explore the brother character in more depth. It seems to me that he was the most rational voice during the whole experience. Perhaps a follow-up story on him?
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAH, but i'm gay.... that was a perfect ending.... im still laughing
My first thought was that Sheena might be the con-artist here.
Beyond that, sorry you were duped.
http://www.globalspeculator.com

Does that website have anything to do with the work you did?
If it does, I just want to say that that's one of the worst corporate logs I've ever seen. The bland font, the tacky shading on the "O" and the lack of imagination are just stunningly awful.

I liked your story and I thought it was an interesting read, but it's no wonder that you can't find a stable job when you're such a total moron. This isn't an example of just being gullible and naive, your actions were just *stupid*.

If this had happened in 1994 or during some time when the internet was in its infancy I might have understood, and had you been some Joe Schmo who didn't have a fancy graduate degree I might have understood, but for you to have been taken as a chump so thoroughly by a scammer who wasn't even TRYING to make himself seem credible...

Honestly, I would be ashamed to have someone as stupid as you working at any company I was involved with.
I liked your story and I thought it was an interesting read, but it's no wonder that you can't find a stable job when you're such a total moron. This isn't an example of just being gullible and naive, your actions were just *stupid*.

If this had happened in 1994 or during some time when the internet was in its infancy I might have understood, and had you been some Joe Schmo who didn't have a fancy graduate degree I might have understood, but for you to have been taken as a chump so thoroughly by a scammer who wasn't even TRYING to make himself seem credible...

Honestly, I would be ashamed to have someone as stupid as you working at any company I was involved with.
The Columbia University Law School clearly needs to revisit either its admission criteria or its graduation requirements ... or, preferably, both.
Wow, I can't believe you fell for that one. I haven't even got a degree, I went to college for 1 semester in my life and I just delete these when they come.

If it seems to good to be true, it's usually not true.

Sometimes they do pay peple, and the governemnt sees if, then you look like your wiring money from abu dabi in the middle of the desert. Not good. Your lucky it ended like it did.
Ha, the funny thing here is that the condescending people are the dumb ones. Fools, everyone involved in the story thought that something was probably up, they just opted to do the work because of the excellent potential reward. That's not stupid, it's human.

This is an excellent story. I rarely can stand to read long articles, and I read this one ravenously.

The end is priceless =)
Arin Greenwood is very brave to publish such a well-written and gripping tale of self-deception and gullibility. One lesson is that the Internet has created such expectations of instant accomplishment that people no longer feel the need to meet face-to-face with people to whom they entrust their labor, their assets and their futures. Best City Paper cover story in years.--Charlie Clark, Arlington
I call B.S.! That said, great read. Nice work!
The point of the article is not the gullible lawyers falling for a scam -- it's a funny story about how far someone would go to woo a woman. And it comes with a twist. Ridiculous situations, with less than ideal people are the basis for good stories. If everyone acted reasonably or perfectly, we'd live in a much, much more boring world.
Well written account Arin. It undutiful took quite some courage to put forward a personal account of being the "dupee." If you are ever able to publish your book, please post it on this forum, I'd be interested in reading it.
what's with you and Kuala Lumpur?

i'm just curious...
Arin's story is a most romantic story about the extreme excesses of love and passion. What wouldn't a passionate man do for the woman that he loves, especially when she is so hopelessly inaccessible? What Arin got out of her adventure is the rare privilege of having been a character in the cast of a real-life Shakespearean drama, centered around the doomed all-consuming passion of an evil genius. Who among you has ever encountered an obsesive fervor as intense or as ardent as John McDonald's love for Sheena? Arin's article allows us the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of a gargantuan and ancestral passion set in a most modern venue -- the internet.
To all of you who are too comfortable to understand the most powerful feeling known to man, I say: f--- you!
Does it come as a schock to anyone that a lawyer that would fall for a scam like this would also be 34 years old, unemployed, and living with their parents? Last time I checked, having some sense of good judgement was a somewhate important part of being a lawyer and representing clients.

But hey, thanks for the article, it made my commute home from my real job, with real clients, and a real paycheck, quite enjoyable.
Why did you leave Saipan?
True story.
I was a writer for Global Speculator. I too was duped. I can't believe how much you found out. I gave up after about 1,000 desperate emails from the other 79 people involved. It wasn't going anywhere.

It may be futile, but can you send me the info for the people that are suing "Gerald?" What do I have to lose after my time and $3000 I was expecting?

Susan
Excellent writing, with a hell of a punchline. Sorry to hear about what happened. Ignore the comments from Internet tough-guys on here; people fall for things far more simplistic than this all the time.

Good luck in your future endeavours.
True story. Yeah, I was one of the dupees in this scam as well. For those of you lambasting Arin for being dumb, you don't know jack. Gerald Edwards/John MacDonald is a slick operator, the slickest I've ever seen. The fact that he was able to con 80 well educated people is proof of that.

Read up on the psychology of social influence and human behavior and you'll understand how he did it. Better yet, just reflect on how over the last seven years the Boob in Chief has managed to con over half the people in this country and you'll start to understand what Arin, myself and about 78 others were up against.

Good job Arin.
That's one heck of a story. The lawyers from the group should start a firm.
This isn't as rare an event as you might think. Craigslist is a haven for spammers because they don't do any sort of background check or even basic due diligence on employers who post their jobs. The only thing that the people at Craigslist care about is their payment. If you don't believe me then try to deal with their customer service person. With the amount of money that they rake in these days you would think that they could re-invest a little of it into some sort of background investment. Unfortunately, this is the norm in the job board and online classified business. Big traditional job boards are not any different. As long as you pay them for access they give you the keys to the palace. Job seekers should remember to be on guard for spammers and scammers, even when looking for jobs.
What I don't get is this:

Obviously Gerald/John is obsessed with Sheena, and contacts her fairly regularly. This man was willing to near-destroy the lives of eighty people (and goodness knows who else may have suffered collateral damage from this scam) to win this lesbian's affection.

Why the hell are you wasting time writing articles about this scam?! Gerald/John will eventually contact Sheena again--you need to get the Feds involved and have her help you track this Gerald/John guy down and drag his butt to jail!
Loved the aricle. A bit surprised by the folks that think Arin is stupid. I'm not familiar with The Washington City Paper, but I imagine they have lots of options for stories. Editors that get paid to be editors thought this was good and so do I.

But the basic theme is what people do with hope in their hearts. She hoped for a job. If her judgement was clouded, put her on the side of everyone that buys a lottery ticket, get's married, the guy that buys a woman a drink at a bar or the parents that pay six figures for their kid to go to college. (Or show up at church on Sunday.)

It was a great story. All the right parts.

Kim
I 2nd Scott Caplan – the trainwreck of Global Speculator could be the scrap metal for a new business machine. You're all unemployed, internet-connected, and bonded together by the humiliation and anger of being used by a con-man to woo a girl who was too smart to fall for his tricks.

But instead of a just a law firm, consider an _internet_ law firm, like an accident claims company but for internet civil court. You could take claims from victims of internet fraud and identity theft and help law enforcement track the perpetrator straight to their bedroom. Especially for crimes that cross borders, we need something like this. Having been burned yourself, your firm would have some empathy for your clients and their emotions.

TV commercial + toll-free # + revenue model + good team = $$$$
Idiots. The guy couldn't even con one woman, Sheena, yet you are calling him a slick operator? This is a simple case of greed clouding judgment. Please tell me this is a work of fiction or a hoax, otherwise it would be pretty sad to have a Columbia Law School graduate at this level. Oh yeah, no wonder why the author couldn't find any work.
Bravo. Bravo.

I fell for this story hook, line, and sinker, and read it to the bitter end. I cursed out loud when I realized I'd been duped, about two seconds after the final sentence.

I have to hand it to the author, though. (Whoever the real author is.) It is a thing of beauty, and it is of incredible amusement to watch the still-duped flail about in their haughty condescension.
Congratulations, your article has made it to Reddit.

For other commentors, www.globalspeculator.com.au is not related to the company in the article. The website you guys are looking for is http://www.theglobalspeculator.com/, which indeed is just a boilerplate page. It's a shame to have to point this out, because the URL is posted right in the frickin' article.

For those that think the story is fiction, a little bit of clever Googling will lead to some court dockets that are available online.

The first thing that came up on Reddit after this story posted is, why don't the 80 of you take all the work you did and make something out of it? Sounds like you're all pretty much already there. File the class C, split the stock 80 ways, anybody that's not interested can sell out, and the rest have a hell of a lot more to start with than a lot of startups.

You have better chances of making money that way than of ever getting money out of the con artist.
Sorry you got taken, but GREAT WRITING.

Loved the ending.
I love your writing style. Amazing story. Any luck on those novels? Would be interested in picking one up.
I don't know how good of a lawyer Ms. Greenwood is, but she's a fantastic writer. She could easily take the core of this real-life story and fictionalize it into a great novel and then option it off in Hollywood to get her Kuala Lumpur money.
What an amazing story, half way through I wondered if it was true. You have a wonderful writing style and I hope you and the others have recovered their lives after this.
Well, although it was a scam, you folks have gathered some valuable information. You should consider putting it on-line. It is the case that if individual investors knew how to invest in Slovenia, and similarly, if Slovenians could find capital, the world would be a better place.
WELL, THIS IS JUST A FICCTION STORY FOLKS. SO GOOD THAT YOU ARE ALL FAALING FOR IT.
THE AUTHOR IS THE COM MAN AND YOU ARE THE DAMN FOOLS.
HE IS TEACHING YOU THE FINE ART OF MANIPULATING MINDS.

CHEERIOUS!!!
It's FICTION, morons!
I'm one of those who (correctly) pointed out that it was quite stupid for the author to have fallen for the con. No, texts on persuasion and psychology will not convince me otherwise. The thought of taking seriously any job posting on Cragslist -- let alone a posting for a legal job -- is ludicrous. Add to that the kooky, stilted prose of the positng -- e.g., the repeated refrain that "only the best need apply" -- of course should have been another huge red flag. (And I have news for you: "the finest legal minds" are not to be found perusing the Craigslist want-ads.) And the fact that approximately 79 other people were witless enough to fall for the scam only proves that there are 79 people who were as witless as the author.

All that said, it was a fun, snappy article, nicely and amusingly told. That I wouldn't hire Ms. Greenwood to help me with a parking ticket does not mean that I wouldn't publish her pieces in a free alternative weekly. (But color me dubious about the novel.)

One further note: although it makes for a nice hook to end the story, I doubt very seriously that Mr. McDonald's elaborate ruse was all designed to win the affections of one gay Indian-American girl -- which is not to say that he wasn't trying mightily to get into her knickers. McDonald is obviously a fraudster, most likely the guy who bilked a bunch of African-American Churchgoers in Maryland by selling them stock in a non-existent net-based startup. Seems obvious to me that he was creating the appearance of a phony corporation, using the unpaid labors of the 79 or 80 dupees, in order to try to perpetrate a standard low-brow securities scam of the type uncovered in Maryland, only a little more sophisticated. With a website, a list of lawyers and other professionals retained by the company, a lovely little CEO, etc., he might have been able to make enough of a show to convince some other dupees to buy stock. It's likely the scam unraveled before he could sell shares.
wow I loved it! It was the best thing I have read in years. I would love to read more by the author. I too wonder if it is true especially with the ending (which was hilarious) Sounds like it might be true. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The author obviously has a lot of talent though bravo!!
This is one great story at the beginning. But I realize you are the biggest duper of all.. because you duped many of us to follow your story till the very end. Aaaarrrggg!
Dear Arin,

that was one of the best articles I ever read. Even if you got fooled by this, I Think you should write a book about it. You are a FANTASTIC writer. I hope that you drop this whole lawyer thing (p.s. I am a lawyer), and go be the author you are destined to be.
Brilliant! As a recent law school graduate, in a situation not dissimilar to Arin (pre-Craigslist scam), this was an immensely entertaining read. Thank you!
I don't know why everyone is critizing Arin's skill as a lawyer. Sounds like she is more of a writer than a lawyer to me. So she took a job that required minimmum commitment (only 2 months), would make her lots of money and allowed her to work from home. Therefore, I am assuming, allowing her to devote time to her real career-writting. How many lawyers out there have time for their families yet alone a second career? A shot at a weird internet job is worth it to pursue your dreams.

I loved it. The story was made even better by the fact that she wasn't trying to hide the fact that she was human. Can't wait to read her book.
I'm a friend of Arin's and big fan of her writing. I have to tell all the people who think this is fiction that if you knew Arin, you would know that it is 100% true and could only happen to Arin. She didn't get duped because she's stupid - she's super smart. What makes her so great as a friend and so entertaining as a writer is that she has this amazing curiosity about other people. Out of the 79 dupees, only Arin could see the situation from this way and sniff out the lesbian love angle possibility.
Dear Arin,

I do not know if you remember me, but I was one of the designers hired through this scam as well. I want to thank you for writing this. This added some closure to what I was going through with this. This was one of the most hurtful things I have ever had to go through.

I have learned valuable lessons from this.

Thank you again.
Nichole
crazy ending
You have school loans to pay off, and you fly to another country to write a book, which upon return does NOT sell, yet the very second you think you've found a job, you start dreaming of flying to exotic places again instead of paying off student loans and other debts, saving for an emergency fund, or a down payment on a moderately priced home???

You were screwed BEFORE ever accepting this 'job' from the con-artist, you were screwed by your immaturity! But I'm sure you're special, yea.
Great story, sorry to hear that this happened. Please post an update sometime if there is one.
Great story. I wonder how much of it is actually true?
For all those who are wondering if this is true...it is. I was one of them gullible 80 people who fell for this. I was stupid too. And for those who are being more than judgemental but just straight out self-righteous here it goes: Are you perfect? Have you ever made a mistake? Is every area of your life mistake free? Those who live in glass castles shouldn't throw stones!

This was a first mistake for all of us and as such I doubt any of us would ever make a mistake like this again. For those who have shared encouraging words...thank you. For those who think they are better than others...watch out that you are not next in making a mistake in: love, finance, the law, life choices.
Arin,
Love you, love your stuff. Let me know if you're ever coming back to Saipan. We'll get coffee and talk about the wonder that is writing. So glad that I found this. Please email me whenever you get published, kay?
Brad
Hello to all:

Thanks Arin for posting this article- You sent us ( the ppl that used to work for TGS an email stating that you posted this article) to be completely honest with you I was afraid. I was afraid to read more about TGS. After, losing my "real" job" and work for the global specualtor and after realizing this whole thing was just a scam--- Thank GOD I just found a new job here in my city and I'm trying to move on with my life- I still feel the pain- I was under a depression status for a whole month- I was going crazy because I needed to pay my bills, my rent, college , etc-- I was crying every single day although I have to thank my friends and my family who were always there 4 me--- I finally feel ready for read your article and it was awesome it brought tears to my eyes and for a second I felt I was going back to my depression.. that's when I realized that I have a new job and that it was time for me to move on!... you are brave Arin- Thank you so much for this!
Only a great writer can make an enjoyable reading of such an unfortunate situation. Arin Greenwood did not deserve to go through this scam.

I will buy you falafel (is this some Chamorro dish?) when I am in DC. I hope you no longer need the air mattress.

Where is the novel?
Sorry about your wasted time, but that was hilarious! The ending was perfect!
make a short film! Hurry!
Hello, very nice site, keep up good job!
Admin good, very good.
Wow, I would also like to read your books. You tell a good story man. That might have been truth you wrote, but if your fiction is that good, I'd read all of it.
Your "story" was emailed to me by my son (3rd ye. law student at UT-Austin), whom I have mercifully taught to be a little more circumspect of " too good to be true offers". He has accepted a job at a big NY law firm that he worked for in the summer and has no illusions about what they expect from him for the 2ooK. Slaveing away 24-7. I am pushing 60 and was raised in a communist country - next door to your dreaded Slovenia. I also run a business here in USA- a great reality check. Your story was very engrossing, so much so that I stayed behind closing time to finish it. However, I question whether it even happened ( I am less trusting than you). However, you do have a flair for writing. The giveaway as to whether it happened or was somewhat embelished by you, by adding a very "punch line" ending is the last line. That is the way good short stories are usually written. Therefore, I am suspicious that although the first part of the scam may actually have happened, you made up the last part ( finding Sheena), First of all, Sheena ( not Indian name). Secondly, "My cherished mademoiselle" Why would he address her in French. I notice also that this line in your write up is written in a different font, as if you transported it from another document. Why? Easier than remembering how to spell "Mademoiselle" The fact that a 19-20 year old Indian girl would be living in Washington by herself bumming cigarettes and drinking cognac, is also a stretch. Most of all, Margaret the Chief Administrator, would suddenly feel remorse? I means she had to be in on the scam from the very beginning, if she was such a trusted employee as to have the guy's password. Anyway, keep writing, - see if you can sell it for a movie, TV series, ( now that the writers are on strike and you are not unionized, might be a good time. Good luck.
Arin, Great article, the best I've read so far. I can't wait for your next work; best of luck on your novel. Do you still remember me (from Tinian)? When I am in D.C. I would love to get in touch with you again. We all miss you. JK.
Krikey - - what a shit story; pathetically written and lacking a finish. The whole thing (even reading the tale of WHOA!!!) was a flaming scam. The writer's book should be consigned to the dustbin which, I am certain, any publisher shall do for all of us, the reading public. Good FUCKING night!!!
utter rubbish
If this is a true story that happened the way you say it did, all I can say is, "WOW". The ending blew me away. I can't imagine how you or the other 79 lawyers felt. If this isn't a true story that happened the way you say, then you should be making your millions off of writing - this is an EXCELLENT, believable story!.
Bravo! Life is Comedy.
This will make a -great- movie.
Why don't you have Sheena do a sketch composite. He seems brilliant, convincing, passionate and carefree. That person should be caught.
boring kind of stupid
WOW this would make a great MOVIE!!!!!!
Great writing..intriguing, get that novel going...perhaps this is the seed.
I don't think that's why he did it! The guy is a psychopath...he saw her as yet another pawn in his wierd scheme. He thought she was gullible because she "played along", as she said. I think he is just using all of that research to keep his scheme going...
The scam here is that you got us all to read this as if it actually happened.

Good story though.
"my new theory, that John McDonald had concocted this whole scheme in order to woo her"

More speculation from a proven gullible lawyer.

Maybe you should stop jumping to false presumptions?

I mean your conclusion does add some contrived vindication that 'ultimately it was John McDonald' who was the "sucker" however that is a flemsy theory when at best John McDonald by your research contacted Sheena "he started calling her every six months or so." Not really the profile of someone obsessed.

Another clueless lawyer.
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof b.s. detector - Hemingway

Keep this in mind for your next novels/articles:)

I enjoyed reading the article. I don't think you are stupid, maybe naive but what people don't realize is that scam artists get you emotionally invested first and they are SCAM artists. They do this type of thing for a living. All day, everyday, thinking up new, clever scams.

I don't think people can say what they would do or wouldn't do. I'd like to think I'd never fall for anything like that, but I probably have already. Who hasn't fallen for a story or lie or believed in something because they wanted so badly for it to be true?
If you were able to get sucked into this nonsense, you are probably are very poor lawyer. Why would you want share this and notify everyone of your stupidity?
What great intelligence!
There was a guy that started with a red paper clip and traded his way up to a house through craigslist. Also you can buy weed and get hookers on craigslist. Pretty positive no 6 figure jobs would be listed there. Lastly Arin, I have some money tied up in Nigeria I need to get out, can you help?
WOW! INCREDIBLE story.

You have my sympathy. My father - high school valedictorian and cum laude graduate of two universities - got scammed in the early 80's by a con man who pretended to be an experienced real estate developer. Like all con men, this guy had an amazing talent for playing on people's hopes, and he ate up half my parent's retirement savings in one gulp. He bought a bunch of businesses, including one that I ended up working for, before the whole thing fell apart. When things started to get sideways, I remember all the employees leaving the Seattle office in a group and walking to the bank a few blocks away to cash our checks before the money was gone. I remember standing around with the other employees looking at our checks, "Hey, your check is blue, but mine is brown. Which kind of check is good?"

I would like to suggest that your theory behind the scam is incorrect, though. John McDonald might have had love as a factor in his scam, but I suspect the real truth is that you just haven't found the biggest victims yet. John probably took your impressive website and obtained a pile of venture capital funding and probably currently spending lavishly while dreaming up his next scam. It is also possible that he sucked in money from dozens of small mom and pop investors.

Sheena may have been intended to be another victim - a prop he could send to more potential investors to suck in yet more money. And if he could romance her along the way, that might only have been a side benefit.

That said, the guy who cheated my parents always seemed to think that legitimate success was just one more lie away. If he could just hold all the fictions together for another week, everything would be OK, and he would be able to make everyone happy. Coworkers and relatives have also told me about running into con men of this sorry breed - self-deluded visionaries who will cheat to make their vision come true, and then walk away with other people's money in their pockets when the house of cards collapses, thinking themselves somehow better than con men who knew all along they planned to cheat people. John McDonald might have been this sort of person.

Nevertheless, a fascinating story well-told. Thank you!
Margaret is Gerald.

He provided the password to his e-mail to unravel the fraud in an attempt to curtail the legal proceedings being bought upon him (as he did involve a lot of lawyers)...anything leading to search warrants or arrest warrants would surely frighten him. His best next move would be to move, and hope the lawyers cease the legal proceedings after having discovered it was just a hoax and there was nothing substantial to pursue.

Gerald's full intention was to have Sheena be by his side and lure investors into investing, thereby supporting a lifestyle for him and Sheena to be together.

Since Sheena did not reply at all..it was time for Gerald to move on.
AN IRONY TO BE HAD BY THIS ARTICLE. THE WRITER, ALONG WITH 79 OTHER LUMINARIES, ALLOWED THE WOOL TO BE GENTLY PULLED OVER THEIR EYES, WHILE BEING SCAMMED, EVEN THOUGH THE INTELLIGENCE AMONGST THEM SHOULD HAVE ALERTED OTHERWISE . THE SCAMMER, "GERALD," WHETHER OUT OF DENIAL OR FOREBEARANCE OF INTELLIGENCE, ORCHESTRATES A BRILLIANT SCAM FOR THE LOVE OF A WOMAN WHO IS A LESBIAN! NOW THAT'S POETIC JUSTICE.
wow now how crazy is that. ruining peoples lifes just to try and get a womans attention.
Is it ethical to post fiction as actual experience? I would say that this fabrication is very damaging to the many gullible readers who are taking life lessons from it. No reputable publication would allow it.
That was such a wonderful story. You mentioned several times you were an aspiring writer correct? Maybe this is just an attempt on your part to promote your book. Maybe you 'concocted' the whole CraigLIst scam notice which led to your intriguing story. Just tell us what the book you're trying to sell is about. If interesting I'll send you the money if you're in need of financial assistance and/ or publishing advice.
Great Story! Well crafted. Enjoyed it very much.
Get a clue you morons, if it looks like a turd and smells like a turd its a turd.
This country is full of scams of one form or another and always will be, driven by the fact that America is the geediest country in the world, which is interesting considering how religious America is supposed to be, isn't greed a sin.
Makes me laugh whenI see these fat bastards coming out of church on a sunday, "again gluttony is a sin" "supposedly" who are shelling out 15% of their annual sallary to said religiuous institutions, on the pretext that God will make theem richer.
Hats off to the scammers, get off your lazy fat asses you wankers and learn to hustle.
Dude! Forget being a lawyer, start writing for a living. I read your whole article and I'm someone who does NOT have time to read. This could have been the greatest event of your life. You will look back on this later and say this was the event that changed me from being just another attorney to ...Good luck!
good story. lousy ending.
That is just amazing the lengths people go to just to get into someone else's pants.It is so sad that people take advantage of other people.Not even considering the outcome for them. It just gos to show that you can't trust anyone anymore.I think if it is too good to be true it is a scam. And in the end it always is.
Great story that undoubtedly led you to better places for having the opportunity to tell it. So one asks themselves why, focus on the positive from the scam. Aren't you getting your last laugh at John/Gerald because you can tell of the scam and get your name out there?
The is story is more of a scam than the story that was told. This douche just wants you to go out and buy his books.
Dude! Forget being a lawyer, start writing for a living. I read your whole article and I'm someone who does NOT have time to read. This could have been the greatest event of your life. You will look back on this later and say this was the event that changed me from being just another attorney to ...Good luck!

What do you think he just did? Maybe the real deal here is that Arin just made it all up and wrote it...and that you all are the gullible dupes...lol.
best of luck ! great story
All I can say is that someone with the intelligence of having the ability to dupe so many highly professional people,could be a millionaire, if this intelligence was directed at a legitimate profession.
Umm . . . this was interesting to read, but it seems like a story about a story . . . I wonder if the readers are also being scammed ;-)
This is an intresting artical but I am wondering did any of the supposed employees inivolved lose and money from there bank accounts?, did they ever get any money from this scam artist? Also, did any of these lawyers file any law suits agaist this guy?
I think that everyone was the object of a rich kids prank. I have seen this before. Some of the worlds wealthy kids have a club they belong to and they do these kinds of pranks to show just how bright they can be. they can actually do something like this without the risk or fear of losing any monetary investment or face ridicule. besides who in their right mind would give any second thought without checking the business records of any company. There has to be some type of operating license to trade or tax info on any company. the fact that no research was done on global speculater was just plain ridiculous to begin with. I also say that the energy that was created should have been tapped.if they all got together they could have used all that work and make it work for them. what a waste of talent
At least it hasn't cost you any money. I worked for a municipality for 6 years and got injured when I got hurt and couldn't do my job any longer. When I asked for a job somewhere else in the township I was told, "We have nothing for you." and these were people that I knew. The point is, everone is out there for themselves and nobody else! I hope this drives you to something good, it did me. I started college and am currently working on a business management degree. Treat it as a bump in the road, dust yourself off and try again. Good Luck on the book.
Wow!!!!

You are an excellent writer.

It reads more like a short story than an article exposing a scam.

What an unbelievable ending too. Halfway through, I was dying to see how it would end, you kept me on suspense all the way through.

I wish you all the best in your future endevours and I hope you find happiness and peace in your life.
Arin -

I told you that you couldn't use my last name so that I would not be identified, but you gave all this other info about me and now all my students think that I'm gay!

I don't understand why you would say that you are a lawyer when you are really a writer, make up a bunch of peculiar things about a craigslist scam, and babble on about falafels and air mattresses and then turn around and state facts about my age, heritage, state of employment and current occupation!

And then to slap the - "I'm gay." punchline on the end! I work at a very strict Catholic school and the administration has now put me on probation until I can prove my heterosexuality. How do you propose that I do that?

I know - How 'bout if you come out here to Oklahoma and get it on with me, since we all know that you are really a man pretending to be a woman. Or maybe I'll just post another personal ad over at craigslist, since that's where we met in the first place.

That's really what this is all about - you are bitter because I wouldn't sleep with you. Don't you realize that women from my culture don't put out? I specifically said that I was looking for a marriage proposal in the ad you responded to. Why does every man think that craigslist posters are a bunch of sluts?

What a way to try to get into my pants! Tarnish my reputation at my place of employment so that I now have to prove my sexual preference! Well, listen here, buddy - I'll just change my name and get another job in another state.

Or maybe I'll get a sex change because you know that I'm not gay, just asexual. It doesn't really matter to me if I'm a man or a woman. I just use my culture as an excuse to not have to put up with all the drama. And maybe if I become a man, I'll no longer have to put up with creeps like you!

Sincerely,
Sheena
send your social security number, bank account information blindly over the net ? way to go !!!! mom must be very proud of you but is most likely wondering why she (and dad) sent you to law school in the first place. think she still brags about "my son is a lawyer" at the bridge table ? on the positive side, i do like you're style of writing, i think you have a career writing letters for penthouse.
Amazing story, sorry to hear about your lost time, and possible identity, however I was so drawn to your story I just could not put it down, so to speak. I applaud you coming forward and exposing these schemes and waking a lot of uneducated people up to reality. It was an amazing story, almost fit for film. It in a sense reminded me of Boiler Room, where you would be essentially working for a company that did not exist doing work for companies that didn't exist or were failing. Very entertaining stuff, I wish you the best in the future. Fantastic story.
Jonathan Rees is an idiot. All lawyers are not "scumbags". Make this comment to the attorneys doing pro-bono work for charities, folks who can't afford representation, etc. There are bad representatives in the legal field, I admit. However, there are bad reps who work on the roads, at Subway sandwich shops, factory jobs, etc. When people characterize, it shows their ignorance. Jonathan R. Rees, you are ignorant.
Loved your story - I suppose the experience is no worse than all of the legal work I've done for people who need help, but can't pay my bill.
Great story and great ending. I'm probablly not the first to propose this idea, but why dont you turn this story into money. Write about this, get a book deal.
I want to know more about John/Gerald. Did they ever find him?
*cough* BS*cough*.......first off, this story sucked. It isnt even true for all you dummies out there. And it isnt even very good. Bad ending= bad story, no matter what happens before. Stories that end in speculation=stupid. Did anybody catch the end of the story....“But I’m gay.”. Thats all this so called writer wanted to say. He admits he was gay in the very begining.

you all are suckers..............lmmfao
MY WHAT AN ACTIVE IMAGINATION. IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A LOAD OF S,,, FROM THE SUPPOSED SCAM TO THIS LONG DRAWN OUT EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE SCAM WAS ABOUT. KEEP WRITING YOU MIGHT GET A BOOK OUT OF IT, SINCE THAT'S WHAT THIS SEEMS TO BE ABOUT, YOUR TEST MARKET
The story was excellant everyone at some point in their life has been fooled by someone or something Arin was young when this happened to her but what she walked away with was priceless and indeed educating and made her wise beyound her years
Glad Im straight.............I yell, shes yells, we fuck, and move on. This what a couple of faggots go through........my gawd the drama. LOL gay bickering at its best...........................suckers (no pun intended).
Why are people so lazy?
Susan..........sweetheart................. Arin is a butt pirate. lol. AKA homosexual.
sad.even the smartest of men can be hoodwincked.
I think this was a great story..I do not believe it is true (but would not bet my life on it), but thanks for something cheeky and thought provoking. Reminded me of reading the old mysteries in Ellery Queen magazine..always with the quirky funny last line.
Reminds me much of the "Blair Witch project"...lots of people buying into it, even the fake comments from people trying to make it seem real..
I would love to know you in person
Sounds like nothing but a book plug to me.
I wonder if the people calling you stupid are the gullible ones. It's a great story but I woner why if this guy is a scam artist why didn't he take advantage of the people who weren't as broke as you and drain their bank accounts? Why didn't he get credit cards in your names and run up big bills that would go to ficticious adresses? He certainly could have convinced Sheena if he paid her a large sum in advance of her accepting the job. Anyway Arin, when you can explain these details you will have a great screenplay for a TV show or even a feature film. It's very well written but your anger at being scammed isn't convincing.
If a normally intelligent person ignores their instincts this is what happens. I would like a list of all these lawyers to be certain I never hire them for anything. Desperation makes people dumb.
WOW!!! I really did not think that people were this gullible..How can someone take on a job having never met anyone in person i mean how stupid must you be..DiDn't you even thing to check out this company through other avenues before taking on this job..There are numerous ways to check on a prospectve employer beofre you start work..And to top it all off there were lawyers that were duped..Just goes to show you that even going to school for years does not make you a smart person...
Trust but Verify...as times get tougher, and more and more of us are unhappy we continue to search for what we want to be true. We need, and I am fully included here, to take off the rose colored glasses and face the stark truth and make decisions for the future.

I subscribe to a blend of theories from this, yes infatuation could be the major player, but don't underestimate the power of the con, the thrill or joy that comes with it, and the ability to knock down if not the individuals the collective group of those who search for success in duping those who find themselves above it all.

I do though wonder why I had to wait until March to see this article - well written and a gripping story - I would have expected it to make it's way to every news paper in the nation...well maybe that was the plan and this whole this is fiction and two weeks worth of PJ work looking to net $21K per month...wow I am reading too many of these type stories
You are a great writer and that is it. The story was intriguing but unlike "The Usual Suspects" I caught your flaw at the end. You say you found an email July 27 to a strange google email address and found 2 intriguing documents. Why did all 79 of you find this when you first got the email password of the John Edwards? Only you found it...and after some weeks of research. I like your science fiction writing. For all of you reading this...this is not a true story.
Arin,

An amazing story, to be sure.

Write a "treatment" and present it to a few leading Hollywood producers. They will re-write it and the final, edited film will be one of hope and how "love is the most important thing".

Run with it!

Good luck in your future endeavours and I look forward to reading more.
It only shows that the education really doesn't matter. Our human nature of the basic needs will jump up and take over. I am glad this story was told for a number of reason's. At this point write a book , get involved with stopping people like th John MacDonalds of the world before the wrong person is hurt. Do something Arin!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the article. I enjoyed it.
I acually got an executive level work-at-home job from an internet posting after completing four phone interviews and no face-to-face contact prior to starting. I worked for that company for more than four years and always got paid.

Reading your story I thank God I answered my ad and not yours. The only things that set our ads apart were a strong internet record for the company (and newspapers too, had I looked) and the fact that the poster had paid a nominal amount of money to list the job. Not enough really, when you're talking about the giant difference between a dream job and a scam.

I say good for you for daring to dream - it always pays off in the end.
I worked my way up in the construction industry in the mid seventies. I can't tell you how many times I took jobs with construction companies only to end up left holding a bad check while the owners skated out of town with their first draw or whatever they could con out of the company they were working for. It's often hard to say whether or not they intended to scam us out of our hard work and our misplaced loyalty or if they simply set out to do something that they were not qualified or equipped to do. When their house of cards begins to crumble their charachter shows and they simply run with the money... or lack of money as the case may have been. Run once and they will run again and again. I remember one such job where a fellow carpenter and I worked a full week after the company owners had locked the doors, taken the money and ran for Mexico, never knowing that we were employed by no one. At least I can say that we worked hard that week and did good work.
Well Arin, at least you worked hard and did good work. you came away with experience you may never gain elsewhere and at some future point in your life you will look back and realize that it served you if you allow it to.
I would watch these comment posts, my guess is, is that your "John" will revisit the scene of the crime and post a comment. Maybe with some explanation or justification for his actions.
Good luck, continue to trust and i'll watch for your book.
Mike Woelke
Hello Arin, I thought that was a great read! I think you should pursue writing.
I'm sorry we have so many cynical assholes with their holier then though comments.
I also don't believe you're a DUDE as so many have indicated.
I was also amazed at how they made comments about things in your story that apparently they could not comprehend, they should go back and read it again, instead of showing the world how ignorant they are.
Many of us are raised to see the good in people and that makes us gullible with a good actor or salesman. We want to believe most people are honest. I believe many people have been scammed but we try to be the wiser after the experience and the sad things is it makes us a little more cynical for the experience, which I would prefer not to be.The World has not changed for the better.
Lastly I would like to say most of the World does not know that Dick Chaney is from Highland Park,Texas (it's a suburb of Dallas) so why wouldn't he give an exclusive contract to a company he runs.He only moved to Wyoming long enough to claim residency, because we can't have the President and Vice President from the same state.
This story is a scam, dont beleive anything on the internet
I wonder how many of those negative comments were left by Mr. J. McDonald? If he's already known to have multiple email addresses, it sure wouldn't be hard for him to leave multiple comments from multiple IDs.
I agree with the rest of the commentators, Arin; keep on writing!
Great Read...Keep Writing Arin....Practice....practice....

Not going to argue if this was a true story,,,don't care about peoples sexual preferences...The story made for a good read and showed how ANYONE could become a victim of Internet fraud. It comes in many forms and anyone who uses the internet should BEWARE.

Someone once told me ,"You don't have a problem, you just have not found the solution...and there is always two to chose from". So Arin, here are two solutions that come to my mind for you. 1) Write the Book and 2) Start an Internet Fraud Company that investigates potential internet SCAMS, for a small Fee. for membership. There should be enough of you that were scammed to know how to do the research.

There are companies that are popping up that say they can protect you from Identity theft .This has yet been tested but I also think that this could be a potential Scam in itself. The Scare the Public tactic as was done with Y 2 K, remember that one? That generated an untold fortune for many computer companies and programmers..SO for some one to say that you were just stupid ,etc. what does that make them when they were probably so smart to avoid the Y 2 K by buying into the GLOBAL SCARE tactic?

Good Luck
and never Let anyone still your dream...whatever it may be.

signed Paladin
I have to say, I found reading the comments (and I read them all) almost as interesting as the article itself. So here are my thoughts if anyone cares; I will take a chance...you know, like brave or curious people do sometimes and then get called stupid for it later.
To the Author: Interesting read. If it is true, I am glad you had the cajones to tell the story of how you were made a fool of. I am also glad you learned from the experiance. If it is not true, it is still a good message to people about scams that happen all the time to anyone and everyone, no matter what your education is.
To the commentors: Such passion incited for a simple article! Truly amazing. For the supporters, I'm glad some people still have sympathy for others.
To the nay-sayers, you must feel good insulting others and letting out your aggression over the Internet, where there is no rebuttle. Congrats!
After all that---SHE'S GAY...not that there's anything wrong with that.
UNLESS you read LEVITICUS, CHAPTER 20...in the BOOK
A most boring piece of fiction. Could use about a thousand re-writes, then thrown in the trash.
OK, I'll tell you why I did it - I'm in love with Arin. We both went to law school together. We were good buddies back then, but before I came out.

I agree with some of the posters here - I do think that Arin really is gay, even though he won't admit it. I wish he would stop this stupid infatuation with Sheena.

I mean, Sheena's pretty hot and all that. If you want to know the truth, I'm hoping that she'll go through with the sex change. I mean, Arin's being a real jerk to both of us, but if she were a dude I could hook up with her/him and we could just leave Arin out of the picture.

And besides being a jerk AND being in denial about his sexuality AND being a "storyteller", Arin has this other problem. He sleeps on air mattresses. Sheena's got a real bed, a futon, and she also learned how to cook real food from her mother. None of that feel awful falafel!

And I bet you are all still wondering what Kermit's role in all of this was. He was the mathematician, remember? His job was to calculate the numbers, like an accountant. He would look through the books and make sure no one was imbesiling the funds. I wanted someone to keep things straight because I had everyone's credit card and bank information for some reason.
WHY would the author MAKE UP this story? Because he/she (who knows what to believe about her identity) gets better reviews of her work. Promoting it as true stops the reader from questioning the premises of the story and regarding them as ridiculous. Would those of you who thought this writing was "excellent" and "enjoyable" have though the same thing if you knew it was made up? Reread the story keeping in mind that it is fiction and you will see it in a new light. I protest the promoting of your fiction as fact because it is deceptive and unethical.
This analysis is wrong...this whole thing wasn't about 'love'...it's about ego. Status. This guy must be borderline nuts; a sociopath that believes his own lies. If SHEENA had just said 'yes' and they got some investments, perhaps you would have gotten paid (who knows?).

The TUX alone shows that there's more here than just 'love'...this man is insecure but has a GOD complex; he wants to feel powerful. Getting 79 people to work for him made him feel powerful. For a time, he might have believed his own lie. He still might see it as not him being untruthful, but just a failed business opportunity. If only some investors had come up with some $$$...who knows?

The bottom line, though: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And second, the best way to get a job is through reliable networking. Going to Craigslist, the ad placer controls everything. You were duped. Right now I work three jobs, in Feb I had four (but one was temporary). I get jobs the old-fashioned way...people know I'm capable and reliable, and they come to me, asking me to help them. Sometimes I have to turn them down. I don't go chasing fantasies. For the woman who bought a car first, remember: don't count your chickens before they hatch. Now, go back to stuffing envelopes with an exciting 'work at home' opportunity.
I do wonder if this entire article is itself a 'scam', a 'waste' of the reader's time. I would argue no...even if 'fiction' it was an enjoyable, John Grisham-like read, and it helps keep people attuned to watch out for con games.

The only 'scam' I ever fell for was the free-coupon scam...it was a trick to get my e-mail address. Oh well.
One more tipoff: when I read the ad, I stopped at 'due diligence.' One of the most telltale signs of a scam is improper use of English grammar and the use of big-business B.S. words, like 'turnkey', that really don't mean anything at all except that maybe someone took a few business courses at some second-rate fly-by-night business college.
I think it's a bit weird that I (and a lot of guys) read this entire article and assumed that the '34-year-old lawyer' was a guy. And others (especially women) read the article and assumed that the 34-year-old lawyer is a 'she'.

The name (Arin) is sort of androgynous, and looking back, I don't see any tipoffs as to the gender of this person. I think this is a bit of a psychological piece. At the end, I am left to wonder: did this really happen? Did I 'waste' my time reading this to get to the punch line? Did I visit www.globalspeculator.com (dead link?). Did I provide my e-mail address?

I am left with this: maybe we're all willing dupes, because we choose and hope to believe the possible, and not always dwell on the mundane. So no, this article did not waste my time, but for all the arrogant people who come out of here with a sense of 'I wouldn't fall for it'...what about Enron? What abour Worldcom? As my father said, "I'm in the tree cutting business." No you're not, I said. He said you just had to believe you were, and then do it. And lo and behold, he bought a bucket truck and got a license and, well, he was in the tree cutting business. Who can know if what someone is telling you will turn out to be true? If I worked for Enron, they had their name on the Houston ballpark...Enron Field.

By the way, the biggest scammers are the corporate scams...Citigroup. Sanford Weill is the biggest scammer of all time. I was at the mall and I met this woman who gave me a business card and offered a job. I came in for a 'job interview' and they 'hired' me. They invited me to a seminar (Primerica) where we watched a video by Sanford Weill. At the end, they asked everyone for $198 for the 'costs' of getting a 'kit' to recruit more people. A classic pyramid scheme.

Now, in the interview, I had been offered a 'salary' not a commission for recruiting more dupes. They had a building, I met real people, they conducted an 'interview'. But everything they told me was a lie, I never got paid (despite being 'hired') and to find out it was being run by the largest bank conglomerate in America. Don't think that only 'fly-by-night' startups are cons. Don't think that only internet contacts are cons. Real people, real places can be cons just as well. How do you tell? When you don't get your paycheck, that's how you tell. End of story.
You know, average people who fall for a scam like this would probably feel so stupid that they might not even tell anyone. I like the way arrogant aholes have to write ad-nauseum about it. Giving every boring detail like somehow if they explain it really well it makes them smarter....What an idiot!! You and your cohorts are completely retarted. Do yourselves a favor...let it go. The more you talk about it the stupider it sounds. How do you get through law school and be such an bonehead. I guess if you have a law degree and still live at home it says a lot about you anyway.
Robert here are my clues that i think Arin is female (or a gay guy).
She said she moved back to her parents house to walk her dog and she cried a lot. She also said that the job offer felt like a date with him and wedding plans.
Also she felt sassy. Lastly i doubt Sheena would of trusted just anyone with her phone number, but then I pictured her as being a strange person anyway having only been about 19 when she met this guy on a bus and gave him her phone number, that doesn't sound like a gay woman to me, they don't usually like or trust men.
Hello Arin,
Your story reminds me of The Red-Headed League. A person desperately searching for a job, and finding one with good pay and ordinary work. The ending is just as unexpected.
I love the way you write and the way you can add some humor to such a situation. I can't wait to see your novel!
Good luck Arin!
For those who think this article is a work of fiction, here is a link to the lawsuit mentioned in the article:

http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-mddce/case_no-8:2007cv02261/case_id-152163/

If I read the court's notes correctly (and I am NOT a lawyer) the plaintiffs sued one of the companies mentioned in the article, as well as the unknown people (John Does) who worked behind the scenes. And they sought discovery (kind of like a search warrant in a civil case) against the companies to find the identities of the John Does. For example, this may have allowed the plaintiffs to examine the financial records of Alulim to try to find Gerald/John. And it sounds like the judge rejected their claims on the grounds that they could not seek discovery against an unknown person because they had not served the unknown person with notice of the court action! What a catch-22!

Part two: the person posting earlier claiming to be Sheena is obviously lying seeing as how Arin Greenwood is a readily identifiable female person with a substantial net presence (including the above lawsuit and multiple "about our staff/contributors" pages) showing she is trained as a lawyer and hopes to be a writer. She also has a blog with hundreds of pages going back years which includes discussion of the scam, and all about writing it up as an article. A quote from her website on the page about the scam:

"and just to answer any lingering questions of truthfulness:
the article is 100% true
I wish I were creative enough to make this stuff up
but I’m not - I’m just feckless enough to stumble into it in real life"

Give it up people - five minutes of research on Google shows the overall story is true. You can find numerous posts from others caught in the same scam, and legal commentary on the scam and the lawsuit.

And as for attacks on Arin's judgment: Being smart does NOT make you immune from being scammed or making bad decisions.

By the same token, getting scammed or making a bad choice does not make you stupid or professionally inept. It just makes you more wary next time.
Love this story.
I also thought it was too good to be true till I looked at the lawsuit link posted by TL. Now I think maybe some embellishments were added (Sheena?), but that's artistic license.
For all those complaining about how stupid Arin was to give away her info and work for a couple of weeks for free, how can this compare to the stupidity of falling for the WMD scam and invading a country.
Love this story.
I also thought it was too good to be true till I looked at the lawsuit link posted by TL. Now I think maybe some embellishments were added (Sheena?), but that's artistic license.
For all those complaining about how stupid Arin was to give away her info and work for a couple of weeks for free, how can this compare to the stupidity of falling for the WMD scam and invading a country?
Are you people as stupid as all get out...?....this is exactly what he wants...even I am participating as i write...HE WANTS ATTENTION!!! STUPID FUCKS..HAVE YOU NOTICED THE ADS ON THE Page..HE'S GETTING PAID FOR YOUR STUPID INPUT...IT WASN'T EVEN A GOOD STORY...ABSURD...gO BACK TO YOUR CHINESE DELIVERIES FOR DINNER AND YOUR FUCKED UP EAST COAST SUPPOSED LIVES...
EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE....WHICH IS INCREDIBLY HARD TO BELIEVE...79 PEOPLE DUPED? tHIS IS MORE OF A STATEMENT OF PEOPLES MONEY GRUBBING BECAUSE OF LACK OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES THAT THEY WOULD GO TO SUCH RIDICULOUS EXTREMES...SO IT IS IN OUR SOCIETY THESE DAYS? THINGS SO TOUGH THAT YOU STOOP SO LOW AS TO DENIGRATE YOURSELF WITH NOT USING COMMON SENSE IN YOUR APPROACH TO A JOB? 79 PEOPLE...THESE ARE THE INTELLECTUALS OF OUR DAY...?..THE BEST OF THE BEST?
HAHAHAHAHHA...WELL..NOW I KNOW WHERE OUR COUNTRY IS GOING WITH THESE GRANDUATES OF GREAT UNIVERSITIES ...UP AMD COMING LEADERS OF OUR U.S.A. ...
Here is my theory. None of this ever happened, this is just a short story written by a struggling author looking for some publicity. Not a bad idea.
this was a great read, reality always better than fiction.I agree, this would make a great movie..
WOW-what a wonderful, sad, exciting, depressing, funny and well written story about a subject I would have otherwise never been interested in. I really enjoyed reading about the romantic twist at the end. A book followed by a movie would be a fantastic idea!
longest piece of non-fiction i've read in a loooooong time yes, i also call bullshit, but that was excellent.
This was very enjoyable reading whether it's a farce or not. It reminded me of Grisham's first bestseller, "The Firm".
You may be a gullible lawyer, but you seduced this busy computer user into reading that entire story. Thank you for your courage in exposing this kind of fraud. You may have a career as kind of a cyber-private-eye writer.
To the dumb broad Stephanie below:

No one would think you are a mute if you don't say anything.

If you don't have anything to say, then don't bother posting "wow" like you need us to know that's all you feel.

By the way, this story is likely made up and all those believed it are morons.

But the writer does know how to tell a story.
I found your story as I was googling "craigslist and job scams" out of curiosity because I had just applied for a position via craigslist...However, I did not include my last name or address on my resume, just a first name and cell number with job history. I sent another email to follow up on the status...and my request was "refused." I don't think I would apply for another job on craigslist...feels a little creepy anyway to give someone your personal resume to a blind ad...glad I left out the important info. But your story, made me think of one thing after reading it....your story would make a great novel!!! You have the characters, the motive, an intriguing twist in wooing a woman that includes modern technology and global communication tools....maybe you and the others were suppose to experience this; learn from it, write a book, then a movie! Don't laugh. Start writing....please let me know when the book comes out!
This is a true story!!!

I'M KERMIT THE MATHEMATICIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good read, and I can totally believe it happened. I think this John MacDonald sounds like a classic case of bipolar (manic/depressive) disorder.
I enjoyed your story. Keep on writing. Hopefully a publisher will recognize your talent and we will be able to read your novel.

Judging by some of these comments, you can dupe as many people as your protagonist.
I can't beleive that I read this Arin, but i finished it and boy this is one great story and should be 1 great movie or book. Anyways, Albert from Saipan saying Hafa Adai! keep up with what you've been doing cuz it will pay-off very soon. Take care!!!! Adios amigo
I too enjoyed your reporting on the facts of "Gerald" and "The Global Speculator." Beingthe "Margaret" in your reporting, I really do need to make it perfectly clear that I was not in any way, shape or form involved in perpetrating the scam. The reported "guilt" that I felt was in having been an instrumental part of developing a team environment that ultimately led to nowhere.

As to the password "fooledyou" it was one that I created. As my suspicions grew, I contacted the e-mail host and explained the circumstances and discovered that "Gerald" had named me as an administrator of the account. As such, I was given password authority. I immediately changed his password and retrieved all of the e-mails. I then forwarded it to a number of trusted personnel. Upon additional discussion and reflection, I decided that everyone should have access.

The argument presented to me to NOT do this was that no one knew who was in on it. It was a feeble argument at best. Ultimately it would have no impact. Under the circumstances everyone had a right to know the particulars.

Addresses obtained were, to the best of my knowledge, thoroughly researched and led to nowhere. I suspect that the letter to "Sheena" and "Sheena" herself were plants to lead us off the actual trail of whoever this guy really is/was. To this day, I have no solid information/knowledge as to what the objectives really were. However, I am certain that it was not identity theft. Theories abound but facts are non-existent.

Although my posting here may not be the smartest thing to do, I feel compelled to defend some very dedicated and intelligent workers. It was a great life experience as well as a professional one. It has been instrumental in my being able to more quickly identify people who have hidden agendas and unstated motives. For me personally, it was a great study in human psychology. I often reflect on the experience and ask these questions: What? Why? Who? How? Although I have answered those to some degree for myself, I will leave it to each of you to develop your own conclusions – ultimately they are as valuable as mine.

It is my greatest hope that the individuals involved in “The Global Speculator” have moved on and put to productive use their extensive talent, dedication and professionalism. I wish for each and every one of them much deserved success in the future.
This is not a fake story. I went through the same thing (a scam) by the same idiot when I was in my early 20s.
Back when this happened to me the guy went by John St. Augusting McDonald and he wanted me to write a website for my local area and offer food delivery for a fee. I dont remember how much he offered in payment, but it was significantly more than I had ever made at that point and the job was more technical from a business standpoint than any I have ever held. But I needed a job so I took it. I spoke with him on the phone a few times. Told me he was going to need me to hire some people, need me to get a dedicated IP in my place. (Which at the time would have cost a fortune) But when the first pay period came and went, I stopped working on the project. I told him I would fly out there find him and beat him to a pulp if I could ever figure out who he was. He wound up going to Jail for that one. He had sold (Without a security broker liscense) a bunch of bogus stock to a bunch of people at a chuch in maryland. He used that money to cruise around in Limos and party.. He was 23 at the time. I am the furthest in the world from a violent person, but if I ever find that guy I will knock his teeth out just for something to do on a sunday.
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