How Do Smart Women Get Taken by Con Men?

About the only thing known about Clark Rockefeller is that police believe he kidnapped his 7-year-old daughter, Reigh. His background, his profession, even his real name remain a mystery.

At various times through the years, Rockefeller reportedly has claimed to be a physicist or a mathematician and to have graduated from Harvard or Yale. He also allegedly implied he was a wealthy relative of the storied Rockefeller clan. It appears that not a single one of those claims has been proven to be true.

His identity remains obscure, and authorities say it's becoming increasingly clear that Rockefeller's past might not have been exactly what he claimed.

"These people lie like they breathe. It is effortless to them, and they are convincing, they look you right in the eye," said Donna Andersen of Atlantic City, N.J.

Sadly, Andersen knows what she's talking about. In 1995, Andersen met James Montgomery, a dashing member of the Australian Special Forces and an entrepreneur worth millions. Or so Andersen thought.

"My ex-husband was extremely charming and enthusiastic… he just had an energy about him," said Andersen.

Andersen was an advertising executive looking for a life partner and thinking that, at 40, she didn't have a lot of time left to look. Perhaps that's why she married Montgomery -- whom she met online -- after just a few months of dating. Looking back, she says there were warning signs.

According to Anderson, Montgomery ran up bills more than $225,000 for several business ventures, and she paid for them. She says there were unexplained absences, mysterious phone calls and always the bills.

Finally, so financially desperate she was looking for something to pawn, Andersen opened a strongbox belonging to Montgomery. Inside she says she found evidence of his adultery.

"I was angry at him. I was angry at myself. You cannot imagine the level of betrayal, the Web of lies that he told," said Andersen. She left him, and 10 days later Montgomery married another woman.

As Andersen began to dig further into her husband's past, she says she found no evidence that he had ever served in the military and and that his lifestyle was financed not by business ventures but by women.

The judge presiding over the the couple's divorce proceedings found that Montgomery had committed fraud and adultery, including lying about his net worth and his business dealings, and that he bilked Andersen of tens of thousands thousands of dollars.

In ordering him to pay Andersen $227,000, the court ruled that Montgomery "met and became involved with the plaintiff for the sole and complete purpose of using the plaintiff's assets for his own personal gain" and that he "engaged in a pattern of defrauding women of large mounts of money." Montgomery, ruled the judge, had preyed on "a series of innocent, vulnerable women to take advantage of their emotions and to cheat them out of whatever they owned."

"My husband was looking for a cash cow, and he found me," Andersen said.

In all, Montgomery apparently married at least four women, some at the same time. Andersen has posted her story and pictures of Montgomery online at LoveFraud.com, a Web site she started so women -- and men -- could share their stories of betrayal.

"People who have not had this experience really have a hard time understanding it. Nobody believes that someone can get taken this way," said Andersen.

But get taken they do.

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