Written by Evi Idoghor, Creator of Letstalknationblog.com
As much as I am a movie-lover, documentaries about real-life happenings such as true-crime, Ponzi schemes, and the likes hold a special place in my heart. Little wonder I was delighted when my friend asked me to watch the documentary—The “Love” Con, which is currently streaming on Hulu. Narrated by renowned veteran actress, Whoopi Goldberg, this story unfolds in 2011 when an award-winning journalist is assigned to do a story on a famous Italian surgeon, Dr. Paolo Macchiarini.
At the time, the doctor performed a ground-breaking surgery by replacing a patient’s trachea with a plastic tube that contained the patient’s stem cells. Of course, the spotlight was immediately shone on the surgeon because this was something that had never been done before. As such, he became highly sought-after.
So, there was a little girl from South Korea, who also needed this type of surgery and the journalist, Benita was assigned to work on this project, documenting everything that would take place.
Hence, she had to have several meetings with the doctor. Also happening during this time is her ex-husband’s terminal illness. Although divorced from him, they shared an eight-year-old daughter who she had a hard time communicating that her father was dying, (in her own words).
This is such a debilitating experience for Benita, and one day during a meeting with the subject of her documentary, she falls apart, but he is present to put her back together.
Her ex-husband soon passes away, and she finds solace in this new man, who was at the right place, at the right time.
So their romance began.
Exotic locations, exquisite beaches, expensive hotels, priceless pieces of jewelry, she indeed was having the time of her life. Two successful people ahead of their game—it was pure bliss, and a match made in heaven. She began introducing him to her friends and family while he only name-dropped about those he knew—the Clintons, the Obama’s, Elton John, John Legend, and listen to this, the Pope!
She was mind-blown. He visited her countless times in the United States, but came up with a multiplicity of excuses as to why she couldn’t come to his hometown in Italy—I have an important meeting, I have a surgery, you understand that I am highly sought-after right? In fact, did I mention to you that I am the Pope’s personal doctor? But shhhh….don't mention to anyone.
To quiet her even more, he proposed! That was just the ray of light she needed after her ex-husband passed away in such a brutal manner.
“I am getting married!” She flaunted her $100,000 ring to her friends and family. “The wedding is going to be in Rome, and guess what? The Pope himself is marrying us!”
All her friends were beside themselves! They purchased their tickets and she quit her job. He told her not to bother herself with the nitty-gritty of wedding planning, that he will do all the heavy lifting. The guest list was endowed with people fit for a royal wedding—the Beckham’s, Andrea Bocelli, Russell Crowe, and the likes.
The invitation also fit for a queen—velvet boxes, laced with delightful ropes, and worded with fonts made for the crème of the crop of society. It was going to be an all-week affair, so she needed multiple dresses. She then hired a wedding dress specialist and made him and his team sign a non-disclosure agreement. Remember she was getting married by the Pope, in the Vatican.
Only that it was reported weeks before her nuptials would take place that the officiator of her wedding, the Pope, was going to be in Mexico the day of her wedding!
And all hell broke lose—it was all a sham.
1) All that Sparkles is not Diamond: Benita was carried away by the glitz and glamour of her budding relationship, so much so that she failed to do due diligence even as a journalist to discover if her lover was all he portrayed himself to be. She turned a blind eye and had deaf ears to all he left unsaid. As such, everything came crashing down.
2) Be sure to meet your lover’s friends and family before making an important decision like getting engaged: Paolo always came up with excuses as to why Benita could not visit him in his home. Although she knew he was previously married, that was all she knew about this doctor before her gruesome discovery. If you are dating someone and they fail to introduce you to those close to them, then that relationship isn’t serious, and if you are in it for the long haul, it isn’t worth pursuing further.
3) If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t: when Paolo first mentioned to Benita that the Pope would marry them, she wasn’t excited by the news because she actually did not think that the Pope officiated such ceremonies on a private scale, although he has done a mass wedding in the past.
It raised some red flags, but she failed to investigate further. Also, during the course of their relationship, she never met or came across any of the famous people he had mentioned he knew on a personal level, like Andrea Bocelli, whom he claimed their mothers hailed from the same village, and as such knew each other.
Single mothers are often targeted for scams like this from deceptive men because they are the most vulnerable, and are often in search of a father figure for their kids. Paolo took advantage of Benita’s vulnerability and then ran with it. What his end-game was, we would never know except he comes out and shares what really went on in his head during those times.
Paolo has since been under investigation for fabricating some of his scientific findings, to which he vehemently denies the allegations. The “Love” Con, an ABC News documentary is currently streaming on Hulu (The Con) and ABC (The Love Con).
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