I have written from time to time about my quest to save a family member who had become a victim of scams. I called this family member “Riley,” since that’s a nice, gender-neutral, name.
Alas, my mother has died (and I’ve told you who she is). You are left with the possibility that I was describing a distant relative (and some of you would therefore be right to wonder why I was butting into someone else’s business) or that I was describing my father.
“Riley” is my dad.
I bother writing this now because I spent the last two days in yet another hearing, where Dad incurred tens of thousands more dollars worth of legal effort in his quest to free himself from the protection we were able to provide for him. The funny thing is that all the legal costs are being borne by his estate. We children show up and testify. I’ve gotten really good at writing pro se filings. But no one else is losing a cent (aside from toner, paper, and stamps). With COVID, none of us even had to stir from our couches.
I sometimes see my life as slaying dragons. Some of the dragons are small, like the tiny dragons of disorder in my home. Other dragons are large, like the threats against which it is my job to help ensure the United States maintains undersea superiority. M* readers have witnessed my battles trying to slay the twin dragons of 1) defamation against Joseph Smith over plural marriage and 2) adulation for the supposed patriarchal and woman-hating system some believers claim is Joseph’s legacy.
But when it became clear my father now believed African women were willing to share gold mines and $100Ms in offshore assets for fake marriage documents and every cent in his possession, I realized I was facing one of the most difficult dragons of all.
Dad is every whit as smart as I am. Like a tiger, he lashed out in ways intended to cause great wounds. Even now, protected, he is pleased to insist that I and my siblings acted to protect him only because we covet his money. Though we are barred from knowing anything about his will, he is pleased to tell us that he has disinherited us. Given that estimates of the value of Dad’s real property exceed $50M, that would hurt.
If it was money we cared about.
I guess I see my dad as being like Scrooge McDuck. He glories in his wealth. The scam worked on Dad because he thought he suddenly had a line on wealth beyond his previous dreams. Initially, we know, he intended the vast wealth the scammers promised to be ours.
But the way these scams go is predictable. First, every scrap of available money is siphoned out of the victim. In Dad’s case, that was $1.2M. Then, the real property is sold because of defaulted mortgages or unpaid taxes. The funds from these sales of real property go to the owner – land transformed to cash. Had Dad been unprotected and still under thrall, all that cash would have been wired to the scammers. The gold and promised wealth is imaginary.
Dad would have ended with his lifetime of investment, sacrifice, and luck dissipated. He would have been left with only income from his pension (still more than many have). And he would have had the love of his many children and grandchildren. But had he ever awoken to the truth, it would have been truly pitiable.
In Dad’s case, we were able to get him protected just as mortgage companies were acting to foreclose. Despite the substantial cash he’d lost, Dad didn’t lose any of the real property he’d spent his lifetime accumulating.
I hope in some future day to meet my Dad beyond the veil, freed from the lies that cloud his vision today. I hope that in that day he will realize that I was fighting to save him from a fate he would have found horrific.
For now, I must be content with a job well done, if unthanked by the beloved father whose dear treasure we have saved.