Can friend help ‘Tim’ from being taken by scammer?

Dear Annie: My friend “Tim” is in his late 40s. For the past four years, he’s been in contact with a girl he met through an Internet Web site with pictures of teen models.

Since then, this girl, now 21, has been spinning tales of woe, asking Tim for money for everything. She claims her father kicked her out of the house, her grandfather died, etc. She has admitted to being addicted to painkillers and says she now needs hundreds of dollars a month for medicine to keep her off the drugs. I cannot begin to list the numerous illnesses she claims she has, from ADD to rheumatoid arthritis to cervical cancer — all of which require money for treatment.

I did a Google search and discovered reports that this girl has asked many other people for money. Should I contact the police where she lives? How can I help Tim not be taken in by her? Worried Will

Dear Worried: Four years is a long time to be such a patsy. Tim is either totally clueless about the possibility of being scammed or he’s delusional about the type of relationship he’s in. We suspect he will not take kindly to your interference in the fantasy he’s created, but please do it anyway. Show Tim what you found on the Internet and see if that opens his eyes. You also can ask the authorities to check her out. It may not help, however, if Tim is determined to continue funding her.

Dear Annie: Recently, I drove across town to see my brother and sister-in-law’s new home. When I arrived, I handed my sister-in-law a small housewarming gift. She said thank you and put it down on the kitchen countertop.

I visited for more than an hour and she never once looked in the gift bag. Isn’t it good manners to open a present in front of the person who gave it to you? My feelings were hurt, but she did call me later to thank me for the lovely picture frame. So, was she rude or am I being too sensitive? Miffed in Miami

Dear Miffed: You are too sensitive. It would have been appropriate for your sister-in-law to open the gift in your presence, but it was not mandatory. We are sure she didn’t intend to hurt your feelings, so we hope you can forgive her.

Dear Annie: I’ve read every letter in your column from abused women who wish their men would change. The only way that’s going to happen is with counseling. I know because I am a former abuser. Getting arrested was the best thing that happened to me because I went through court-ordered counseling. I didn’t like myself after I committed acts of abuse, but was too proud to seek help on my own.

I always told myself it wasn’t my problem — she made me mad and deserved what she got. But when I went to counseling with other men who had committed similar atrocities, I realized it was my fault. I was asked whether I would do to someone else what I did to my wife. The answer was no. I was asked whether her behavior meant she deserved a beating from someone else. Again, no. Having to admit every week that I was an abuser made me face facts. Once I made that leap, I was able to begin the long road to change.

Since therapy, I’ve never raised my hand to a loved one, not even my dog. I’m no longer with my wife, but my relationships with women are much better. My adult children will tell you I’m a changed man. When I become serious with a woman, I tell her about my past and say if I ever hurt her she should call the police immediately. I’ll deserve that. California

Dear California: Thank you for a frank and honest letter. It is encouraging to know that abusers can reform, and we sincerely hope you never again raise your hand to another living being.

XE-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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