Burleson teacher learns hard lesson about marriage

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by DEBBIE DENMON

WFAA

Posted on October 25, 2010 at 12:40 AM

Poll:
Would you consider hiring a private detective to check on your prospective spouse?

BURLESON — He was smart, charming, and handsome... the kind of guy most girls fall for.

But Burleson teacher Robyn Grimsley says her "Prince Charming" turned out to be the "King of Scams."

It's the kind of story one private investigator is hearing more and more — as more bank accounts are emptied.

Photos show Robyn Grimsley beaming with pride on the day she was wed. "I looked past so many things," she said, looking at her wedding album. "There were so many red flags; had I put my eye on or paid attention to it, it would have saved me a lot of heartache and a lot of financial strain."

Grimsley said she learned the hard way that you can't always follow your heart after letting the man she fell in love with borrow her credit card soon after they started dating.

"He ran up $5,000 on my credit card," she said. "He told me he had identity theft and he couldn't open up a credit card. He couldn't open checking accounts."

Grimsley let her then-boyfriend open up credit cards in her name. Then she started opening bill after bill after bill.

"I found out there was a lien on a motorcycle in my name which I'd never signed for," she said. "The motorcycle was $10,000, and — in total — it was $30,000 that he ran up in my name."

Private investigator Catherine Smit, owner of Stilletto Spy & Company Investigations, says with Internet dating on the rise, more women are seeking out experts to do background checks on beaus.

"If you've got any assets at all, by getting married it jeopardizes your assets," Smit said. "You should never get married without protecting your assets or checking their assets to make sure they really have the assets that they say they have."

Smit is a former police chief, and says it's all about verifying information.

"You have a private investigator verify all the information they give," she said. "One of the things I'm going to do is investigate their exes."

Smit said she would have been able to find out that Robyn Grimsley's husband had ruined his own credit — and that's not all.

"I would have seen that he ruined his own credit; I would have seen that he had warrants out for his arrest; I would have seen that the IRS was pursuing him," Smit said.

Grimsley is now divorced, wishing she had never walked down the aisle without doing a basic background check.

"I still didn't want to believe that the man I loved could do that to me — could abandon me to sink," she said.

It costs a few hundred dollars for a background check — a small price to pay, Grimsley said, for peace of mind before settling on a mate.

No charges were filed in this case, even Grimsley was out nearly $30,000 in their short marriage. Private investigators say it's difficult to press charges for financial fraud after getting married.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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