Dear Abby: Swindler could take woman’s identity, money, even her life

Lonely widow seems to be totally under the control of a man she has known for only a short time.

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DEAR ABBY: Regarding “Baffled in Iowa” (Nov. 4), it appears the letter writer’s friend may be in danger. As you stated, the man her friend became involved with is “more than a little controlling.” At the least, this woman, once located by social services or police, needs a welfare check — i.e., a serious look at her situation by a well-versed professional familiar with these kinds of situations.

This is just the type of thing that could result in “Baffled’s” friend losing her identity and losing all finances to what appears to be a well-heeled con man. One could also envision her being murdered for insurance money. Yes, she is an adult who “has the right to make her own decisions.” But, from what we know of this woman, she may not be able to make any of her own decisions and be totally under the control of someone she has known for only a short period.

This woman’s situation is more than a little concerning. As a residency-trained, board-certified emergency physician, I’ve seen similar situations that resulted in identity theft, loss of all assets and even murder. My wife holds a Master of Social Work and has dealt with similar scenarios with clients that resulted in terrible outcomes. We have serious concerns about her friend’s physical and emotional safety as well as her financial well-being. — EXPERIENCED IN COLORADO

DEAR EXPERIENCED: Other readers wrote to express the same concerns. They suggested the friend’s new “boyfriend” may be a narcissist, sociopath or domestic abuser. They recommended that “Baffled” contact her local Department of Family and Children’s Services to report potential elder abuse. Adult Protective Services may also be able to help. And guidance from the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org; 800-799-7233) should be sought, because the woman’s abrupt major changes — selling her house, moving in with the man, taking out a life insurance policy and ceasing contact with friends — are multiple red flags.

DEAR ABBY: Some years ago, my ex and I went through a contentious, bitter and prolonged divorce. She’s a foreign national, and she returned to her home country a few years afterward. Our son, who is now an adult, soon followed her. I hope to visit him there in a couple of months. My son and my ex expect that I also will visit with her. I do not wish to see her. We are divorced, after all. How do I respectfully let our son know that I do not want to see his mother? And how do I tell the ex? — NOW SINGLE DAD IN WASHINGTON

DEAR NOW SINGLE DAD: Tell your adult son that while you are looking forward to seeing him, considering the circumstances of the divorce, you prefer no contact with his mother. Hopefully, it won’t affect his willingness to see you. If it does, however, you will have to decide whether seeing her is a price you are willing to pay to see your son. (And make that “family reunion” short and sweet.)

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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