Laura McAdams met Ron Aptid after work one night at Capital City Brewing, a popular D.C. nightspot near Union Station.

They hit it off. Dinner two nights later. A show at the Kennedy Center the following week. He wined and dined her for three weeks.

Then, one night at dinner, he said he had left his wallet at home and asked Laura to pick up the check. He’d pay her back. She didn’t mind. He had spent a lot of money on tickets and dinners.

On the way home, they stopped for gas. He used her American Express card to pay for the gas and gave it back to her. She put the card back in her purse.

Four days later, she pulled the card out to pay for lunch. The waiter came back and said he had to keep the card. It had been reported stolen. He called her “Miss Lorentz.”

“My name isn’t Lorentz,” she said.

“That was the name on the card,” the waiter said, “Adrianne Lorentz.”

She paid with another credit card and asked to see the manager. He called American Express for her and put her on the phone.

“This isn’t your card?”

“No.”

“Well, this card was reported stolen. Do you have a card of your own?”

She dug through her purse and came up with a receipt with the number on it and gave it to the Amex representative.

“Can you tell us the last time you used your card?”

She thought back. The dinner at Capital Grille with Ron. The gas station on the way home.

“Miss McAdams, I can tell you that the card has been used since then.”

Laura’s head was spinning. She couldn’t find her card. Why did she have a card for someone named Lorentz?

The Amex rep suggested her card had been switched. If it had, Laura thought, it either happened at the restaurant or at the gas station. She asked Amex to put a stop on her card.

When she got home, she realized she hadn’t heard from Ron since the night he said he had forgotten his wallet. She pulled out the number he had given her and called it. A recording said the number had been disconnected.

She called 411 and asked for a phone listing for Ron Aptid. The operator found no listing in D.C., Northern Virginia or Maryland.

The next week, a bill arrived from American Express. She found $9,622.17 in charges on her card after that last date with Ron Aptid.

She called Amex. They said the charges would be removed from her bill. They suggested she call the police. They took her report over the phone and never called back.

Two more weeks went by. She still hadn’t heard from Ron Aptid. Then she got a call from JoAnne Riley, who asked to come by her office.

Riley turned out to be about her age, single and attractive. She wore a tailored business suit and handed over a business card that said she was a sales rep.

“I called you because somehow I ended up with your American Express card,” Riley said.

They compared notes. Riley had met a man who called himself Frank Goreham at Nathan’s, a watering hole in Georgetown, the day before Laura’s last date with Ron Aptid. The description of Goreham fit Aptid to a tee.

On their third date, Goreham (or Aptid) told Riley he had left her wallet at home and asked her to pay for dinner. On the way home, he stopped for gas and used her Amex card.

A week later, Riley tried to use her Amex card and found it was actually Laura’s card and had been reported as stolen.

Before she discovered the switch, Goreham had run up more than $10,000 in charges, including a plane ticket (first class) to Atlanta.

“The police figure he’s in Atlanta now, pulling the bait and switch on other women,” Riley said.

“Classic bait and switch,” says Carl Logan, a private investigator who specializes in tracking down lost boyfriends, husbands who skip out on child support, and other miscreants.

“This is a familiar pattern,” Logan says. “A guy lives off the credit cards he siphons from women. He uses the card for a few days, then passes it off on another woman before it gets reported stolen. It’s an old gag, but one that still works. He probably has three or four women on the hook at any one time.”

Logan said scam artists like Aptid/Goreham are hard to catch.

“A lot of people don’t like to admit they’ve been had, so they learn their lesson and move on. So does he.”

Laura McAdams learned her lesson. She met a new guy at Capitol City Brewing a few weeks ago.

She hired Carl Logan to check him out.

He came back clean.

He hasn’t forgotten his wallet once.

And they’re still dating.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC

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