AOL highlighted author Jacqueline Mitchard's financial plight in today's news. But I had read about it last December when the highly regarded author wrote of it in Parade magazine.
There are so many parts of Mitchard's life that I admire, even envy--the wonderful books she has written, the fact that she and her husband have adopted children, the movies that have been made from her novels. She's only a few years younger than myself, and I would trade places in a heartbeat.
But being warm, personable, bright and educated does NOT protect one from financial scams. Some time ago, I wrote about a doctor friend who got caught up in Bernie Madoff's money games.
Mitchard points up two aspects of being a victim--one is the shame of it. Where, she wonders, are the books and newspaper articles highlighting the victims? Instead they remain in the shadows cast by the spotlight shone on the scammers. Others write about them in passing but the victims seldom seem to tell their own stories. Who wants to admit they could be in that position.
Mitchard talks about the well-meaning friends who say they feel sorry for her, but also feel like it could never happen to them. Really? What makes them so smart and so special that a con artist could never get past them?
The only reason I feel safe is that I've never had enough to invest that would interest a Madoff or his clones. I certainly don't think it is innate intelligence. That might protect me from the widows of Nigerian Generals and Lottery officials from Ireland (really? I didn't even have to buy a lottery ticket?) but the best scammers are a lot closer to home.
Saddest of all is the label of GREED that is attached to many victims which allows those of us who were not taken to somehow feel superior. Yet, as Mitchard's situation makes clear, greed had nothing to do with it. A steady rate of return and a decent retirement was all she and her family were looking for.
They are still looking.