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Patty has been living with her brother, Will, since February. On Wednesday evening, she she messaged me on Facebook.

Can I ask you something

And can you promise not to tell Dad?

Yes.

Will was conned by a young woman asking for money.

Cash?

Of course.

How?

So, she claimed to have fled an abusive relationship in Alabama…. She was at the grocery store. Will went shopping Monday.

Alone.

I was not there. Otherwise, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

How much did he give her?

Quite a bit.

Does she know where you live?

I’m not sure the total amount.

No.

Good.

We kind of know where she is supposed to live.

How do you know he was conned?

I think we need to call the police. Weeell. He went and saw her tonight (she was asking for help again.)

How much?

And she claimed to have lost her wallet. That’s tonight.

She has his contact information?

She asked for $300 more.

Oh no.

Unfortunately, yes.

He gave it to her?

Block her.

Yeah. I know. Sigh. People prey on those with obvious disabilities.

At this point, I began messaging Will. I found out he had been approached by a young African America woman who claimed to be escaping from an abusive relationship. She asked Will for money to pay her rent. She was crying, he said. She told him she would pay him back, and asked for his phone number so she could pay him back when she got the money. However, over the course of three days, she never paid him back. She only pleaded for more money. Over the course of three days, he gave her $1,600.

I asked him if she knew where he lives or his last name.

He said, No. I hope not.

Do you know where she lives? Did you go to her house? Did you take her to your house?

No. I don’t know where she lives.

Block her. Don’t talk to her ever again.

I’ll give her another week to pay back the money.

No. Block her. Consider the money lost, and this an expensive lesson.

Okay.

I knew that he was still unconvinced. He is independent. He is an adult. He’ll say one thing and then do what he wants anyway. After all, he is an adult (29) and doesn’t want to argue with me, his mother. I understand that.

The next morning I received a frantic phone call from Patty. “Mom, that woman called Will and is asking him to buy her food because she is hungry.”

“Go and tell Will to hang up. Right now.”

I heard her hurrying down the stairs. “Mom, said to hang up. Right now!”

Will hung up. Patty handed him her phone.

“Will, don’t talk to her anymore. That money is gone. You will not be able to get it back no matter how much she says she will pay you back. She will only plead with you for more.”

“I know.”

“Block her.” Then I thought, her friends would still be able to call, or she could get a different number. “Change your phone number. Right now.”

“Okay. I will.”

A few minutes later he sent me a Facebook message with the new phone number. Later, he told me that he was relieved that she couldn’t contact him anymore. We went to visit him and Patty yesterday. Privately, I asked him how she could have gotten $1,600 from him in three days. He said, “She just kept tricking me.” I told him that he had a good heart, that he wanted to help a woman in distress. But she took him advantage of that good heart in him. I know, he said.

Oh Lord. How I want to keep him and his sisters safe. I did not think to prepare him for this. Fortunately, Patty who is living with him, tried to stop him. And when he snuck out to give this woman even more money, Patty enlisted me in the effort to stop him. I hate to think what would have happened had Patty not been living with him.

I hope that he will not give into the desire to try to get his money back. That he will not contact her with his new phone number. Oh Lord. Keep him safe.

Adults with autism who are functioning in the adult world may be more vulnerable to scams. Our Will wants to believe good in others. This experience will hopefully make him more wary in the future. He is usually very careful with his money. And the loss of this money did not endanger his ability to pay his bills.

 

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