An investigation into the people who lead secret double lives—and why their loved ones don't catch on—drawing on the author's personal experience.
From the day Abby Ellin went on her first date with The Commander, she was caught up in a whirlwind. Within five months he'd proposed, and they'd moved in together. There were red flags: strange stories of international espionage, involving Osama bin Laden and the Pentagon. But soon his stories began to unravel until she discovered, far later than she'd have liked, that he was a complete and utter fraud.
When Ellin wrote about her experience for a cover story in Psychology Today, the responses were unlike anything she'd experienced as a reporter. Legions of readers wrote in with similar stories of otherwise sharp-witted and self-aware people being taken in by ludicrous scams. Why was it so hard to spot these outlandish stories? Why were so many of the perpetrators male, and so many of the victims female? Was there something universal at play here?
DUPED uses Abby’s story as the jumping-off point to delve into the duping phenomenon: how surprisingly pervasive duping is; why we glamorize those who commit fraud but shun those who are fooled; why certain people lie, fool, or lead double lives; the psychological load of maintaining a long-term con; what makes someone likely to be a victim—sometimes more than once; why men are more likely to be fraudsters; and strategies used by the FBI and other organizations to spot fakers. She incorporates stories of people who came to her after she revealed her own fraudulent fiancé, and even reveals how she herself was fooled again by another boyfriend. DUPED is a surprisingly relatable trip into the secret world of double lives.