The Cruelest Con

We have worked on over 400 cases in Indonesia, and as you may imagine in the field of private investigation we are always coming across some very heartbreaking stories. These range from infidelity cases, to abducted children to people being conned out of large amounts of money.

Here is another of our true case histories, and this is one that will remain with me in all its details I am sure forever. It will be stuck firmly in my mind as perhaps the cruelest money-making scam I have come across.

I am sure worse things happen, and scams and cons that have stronger self-serving motives and are more gruesome than this happen.

Also, I would never want to compare one person’s pain and misery against another. I am not saying here that in this particular case the pain caused is worse than any other horror story I have come across. Nor am I saying it isn’t. Only would I venture to claim that this case is particularly twisted.

I think also in life we may think we come across evil all the time, but I don’t think, fortunately, that we do. After reading this brief case history you can judge if indeed, as I believe, it is an act of evil.

Con Background

Just after Christmas last year I received a phone call from an American man.

He told me that he had had an Indonesian wife for ten years and that they had a  son 7 years previously.

He was calling from America although he had just returned from Sumatera and Lombok (an Indonesian holiday destination) where he had been trying to figure out some answers.

Basically a couple of weeks before contacting me his wife had called him and told them their son had died from a swimming accident in Lombok when she and him had taken a short holiday there. They were based in Sumatera and my client would visit regularly – four or five times a year since the birth of his son.

He then flew directly to Sumatera to see his wife. She was able to offer little information only saying their son had died, and that he should forget about it. There was no death certificate and no official report records.

He flew to Lombok where he walked the beaches and visited police stations asking coast guards and the authorities if they had heard of the drowning of a young boy recently.

No one could offer any help.

This is when he called me.

My initial reaction was one of disbelief. Disbelief that there had actually been a death. The fact that there was no report made of the drowning and no inquest meant that officially the boy was only missing.

Worryingly also if the facts as reported by the wife were indeed true then she would be guilty of a highly criminal act – not reporting a fatal accident.

Our Task

My client wanted me to go to Sumatera and try and figure out what really happened.

He gave me a very thorough briefing of the various people in the extended family circle, and also of the nanny, who had helped in looking after his son since his birth.

Con Uncovered

I spent a week in the Sumateran countryside unknotting this whole sordid scam.

Without going into all the details and the process needed the fundamentals of the case came to light as follows:

1: My client’s wife had never had a baby 7 years ago. She had told my client that she had had a baby boy but this had been a lie.

2: She had “rented” a baby that she would bring out to stay with them when my client visited. At times this entailed renting the boy for long stretches such as when they took a two-month break together to Lombok.

When my client left Indonesia the boy was returned to his real parents. Although when the boy was with my client the real mother stayed close acting as the “nanny”.

3: The real mother and father of the boy had decided to end the rental arrangement. I was told there had been some disagreement and also I gathered they felt guilty of continuing with the charades and lies.

4: My client had of course been paying for the upkeep of his son – monthly allowances, kindergarten, nanny costs, medical care etc. His wife had set up this whole scam as a way to get money from him.

Sadly this scam might have been instigated by my client’s wife in compliance with the real parents, but quite a few other people were aware what had been going on for seven years and had kept quiet. That is until my visit. Perhaps a line had been crossed when the story that the boy had died was used as an excuse to explain the boy not being able to show up any more. Whatever the reason for their newfound honesty I heard the true story from a few people.

5: Indeed I met the real mother and the boy and spoke with him and his mother as he sat close by his mother. When I showed the boy a picture of my client he called him “daddy’. His mother explained that he had been taught to address my client as such since birth.

The Victims

This scam has two central victims, the boy, and of course, arguably the main victim,  my client.

I hope that the impact on the boy will be minimal. OK he called my client “daddy” but hopefully this was just a word similar to people calling unrelated people “uncle”. Of course also if there is anything positive from this whole case it is that the boy had to drowned.

I often think about many of my client’s and feel great sadness for the awful things that happen to them. One good part of my work as a Private Investigator is stopping a toxic situation so people can recover, and move out of a darkness and onto a better life.

This case though, months on, remains with me and I pray that my client will be well soon. I know he was devastated and still has trouble sleeping.

His financial loss is nothing compared to the heartbreak and confusion. To go through seven years believing you have a son, that you care for and love. Imagine chatting to strangers and taking out your wallet to show a picture of your son with pride. To be told that boy is dead and then to find out there was never a son in the first place.

Lets not forget though the other victims here. Victims that could perhaps go unnoticed. My client had a brother and a sister who both had children. His father had died but his mother was still alive. He also had children from a previous marriage. So all these people had either a nephew, a cousin, half-brother or a grandson. I was told an aunt had a picture of her nephew on the wall in their house, the grandmother on her mantelpiece, and all the relatives would send presents every Christmas.

At the end my client told me he was too distraught to speak to anyone at the time, and needed to figure out what he would do next, but he asked me to leave a message to his “son” (he still called him his son).

I gave the message: “your American daddy loves you very much and he is sorry that he can not come to see you just now. He bought you a train, a football and a Chelsea kit for Christmas. You can get the presents from the house in xxxxx road where you stayed with your American daddy. Your mummy knows where this is”.

This was an evil, cruel and callous scam.

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