It’s April 1st, 2020… and it’s time to come clean.
Ordinarily, I’d be releasing another net worth update around this time. But last month, I released my final one. In it, I recapped 13 years of net worth updates, and the changes I’ve been through in that time. I also wrote a retrospective last year about getting to my first $100,000 in savings.
Lies, dirty lies of omission, abounds in both of them. And throughout this whole blog.
Now, of course, on any blog there will be things left out. I’m not expected to narrate every single pack of gum or straw bale that I buy, nor every coin that lands in my pocket. In fact, I’ve kept mum about my precise income for most of the blog, and that’s perfectly okay. There’s no obligation to share any of this with the internet, and it’s a fairy tale to believe that any blogger is sharing 100% of everything.
But still… there’s a part of the tale that I’ve very intentionally left out, and today’s the day to stop spinning. And, not only do I have to ask your forgiveness, but I also need your help.
Where It All Began
13 years ago, I had started this blog and it started to get some traction. A mention on the front page of the New York Times calling me a “debt blogger” and a few other high-profile internet hits put a lot of eyeballs on this site. Some people were kind and helpful, others offered to show me where my bootstraps were and advice on how hard to pull them, but one person reached out and offered something else:
Gold. Literal gold.
I ignored the offer at first. A scam (or just more spam) I thought; it definitely didn’t seem real. But the person making the offer was persistent, but not pushy. He saw me getting in over my head with debt and a bad employment situation, and my school hounding me for money I didn’t have for rent on an apartment I wasn’t even living in anymore (since I had dropped out).
So I took the gold.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and I promise you – this was not a Sugar Daddy/Baby situation. He genuinely seemed to want to help out, and I was helping my mom get ready to move out and downsize by selling her furniture on Craigslist at the time. So, he bought it all, paid way above market value (in gold) for a well-loved kitchen table and some dressers, and I just had to figure out how to sell physical gold (cause the bursar’s office at school was like “Yeah, no, we don’t take that – check or Visa/Mastercard only.”)
Over the Years
Each time I would get in a bind, he would show up. It was like he had a sixth sense for when I was in financial trouble. He’d pop up, before I’d even written anything on the blog or told anyone. We became somewhat of friends even, because he would also show up to celebrate my successes. Family birthday parties, my college graduation, even when my then-fiance and I were taking our own engagement pictures in a park for fun – he showed up with gold and offered to pay for real engagement photos.
You are probably all “okay, fine, lots of people get gifts, Stephonee… this isn’t a big secret,” but I assure you, this is much bigger and weirder than regular gifts.
For one thing, the amounts grew to be substantial. When I was laid off from my dream job (while also trying to plan my wedding) in 2014, he showed up with so much gold, I had to rent a large storage unit to hold it while figuring out how to unload all that. It was like Fort Knox.
The other thing that makes this so very, very weird (and why I couldn’t ever tell you before) is that I have no clue what his name is. He just… never told me. And after years of knowing him, I wasn’t about to ask and be super awkward about it.
What’s In a Name?
Okay, so why even bother coming clean now… it’s been years since I last took this guy’s gold, and does it even really matter? I wouldn’t have said anything, except he popped back into my life again recently, only this time, not bearing a gift. Instead, he’s demanding that I haven’t held up my end of some “agreement” relating to that last roomful of gold.
Now, I’ll tell you right now, I have no idea what he’s talking about. I thought it was a wedding gift. And if there was any agreement, it was verbal and this guy’s got nothing in writing. But the mere fact that he’s demanding something from me now, years later, tells me that this was a long con. And based on his ability to make gold appear out of seemingly nowhere, I’m guessing he’s been at this a long time. (The “no name” thing makes soooo much more sense in light of this, too.)
So I figure, rather than giving into his truly ridiculous demand, I’m just going to expose him.
The following are photos I have of him showing up at life events of mine. You might recognize these photos from my $100,000 savings recap – I hired a digital artist to edit him out of them for that blog post, because it’s so hard to find photos from that time where he’s not there. But I’m releasing these original photos now, in the hopes that someone recognizes him and can help me figure out his name.
Does anybody recognize this guy? He’s pretty weird-looking, so I figure someone has to know him.
Here’s the last piece of the puzzle that might help: he’s demanding that what I agreed to give him in return for the final pile of gold was my first born child.
Obviously, I didn’t agree to that, and I’m not going to do it. INCONCEIVABLE. I only mention it because with such a long con, I imagine this is his MO (modus operandi): spinning out gold for poor girls in need of help, then showing up later in our lives to extort us.
If you know this guy’s name, please shout it out in the comments. I believe through the power of crowdsourcing, we can put an end to his tomfoolery.
APRIL FOOLS! Thanks, as always, to those who played along without revealing the joke! This year’s Amazon gift card goes to Sam, for not only being first, but being… well… Samwise about it. See his comment below!
And most importantly, thanks and credit to Sierra Tuazon for the artwork on this post. She was a dream to work with and is available for additional freelance work right now – HIRE HER!