From the September 2013 magazine.

September 2013: The Scam Artist

In my third month of sobriety, I was finally ready to do my Fourth Step, but I did not have a sponsor. I had this stubborn idea that because I felt betrayed in a failed relationship when I was 19, I would never trust anyone else the rest of my life. At 36, I brought that idea with me to AA. Though I was ready to do a Fourth Step, I wasn’t confident I knew how. I asked a few AAs I met in meetings and I received a variety of responses. Needless to say I was confused. So an AA friend suggested I get a temporary sponsor. I liked the word temporary, so I agreed to give it a try. He suggested a man who I had seen in my evening meetings. He had more than 25 years of sobriety, he was well-spoken and funny, and he seemed to be knowledgeable about AA. In meetings, he often mentioned that he was a lawyer and a former Marine. I thought it curious that someone would share their profession in an AA meeting. I asked him if he would help me do my Fourth Step, and he agreed. He asked me to come over the following Saturday.

When I got to his place, he gave me some books: AA Comes of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Pass It On, and Came To Believe. I wasn’t familiar with any of these books at that time, and I appreciated the gifts. I was ready to begin work. I brought a note pad with me. But instead of discussing the Fourth Step, he began to talk about his membership in a group of lawyer friends on the East Coast who were part of an investment group. He said this investment group made lots of money for him and his friends. He suggested that if I gave him $1,000, the return on my investment would solve all my financial problems. Though I tried to get back to writing my Fourth Step, he kept going on about this investment opportunity and how it would help my family. This made me feel uncomfortable. I thanked him for the offer and told him I would have to think about it. He insisted it was a sure thing, but I didn’t waiver. I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going to give this guy my money. I was there to start my Fourth Step, not to get rich. I found out a year or so later that this guy had successfully scammed other AAs with the same investment scheme.

-- Woody R.

Stockton, California

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