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A close and old friend of mine said he knew someone who wanted to hire me to make a computer program. This "someone" provided me with fake id and never paid me. I eventually traced my stolen program and found it was my friend who had been using it all along. My friend continues to deny his involvement and just keeps escalating things such as saying I hacked into his work computer to find out he was using the program and that he’s going to sue me for hacking. Actually my friend works at his dad’s company so he told his dad I hacked into their network and his dad called me. His dad seems to believe my side of the story but says he can’t really force his son to pay me (I have known his whole family for a very long time). My ex-friend also photo-shopped a contract with my signature on it to make it look like I agreed to something I hadn’t so he could resell the program.

I am extremely confused and upset. There are many parts of what happened that don’t add up, my friend is very wealthy and I know he could have paid. Even if he didn’t want to pay I would have done it for free but not prioritized it above work that I’m paid to do and I think he knew this.

I reported this to the police and they basically said it’s not worth the time, effort and money to go to court (though we are effectively my ex-friend did steal hundreds of dollars from me and had a fake identity to bully me around). The police advised me to stop contact with him and block him on social media.

We have/had the same group of friends and I believe he is trying to discredit me so they won’t believe me when I say he has refused to pay me. How should I talk to the people in this group of friends as I think it’s fair that they hear my side of the story? I recently red something about how it’s a problem in our society how people try to stay out of other’s people business when those ripping off people really should be held accountable and be known for their actions. Given the complexity of the scam, and how I found out it was him, I can't really "prove it" to the circle of friends, for example my ex-friend just says I didn't get paid because it had a virus, which isn't true.

What I want is for my other friends who know him not to believe the lies he is telling him and to make them aware he isn't to be trusted.

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    Hey Donttryit and welcome to IPS! You've asked a lot of questions at once here, could make it easier for people to answer by breaking up the questions into exactly what you want an answer to? If you make it more obvious what your main question is you should get more answers. As it is now this may get closed because it's quite broad. – Chilly Aug 7 '18 at 11:32
  • @Chilly if it's still not good could you point out a specific problem? – Donttryit Aug 7 '18 at 11:41
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    Hi Donttryit. We cannot help you solve "what should I do" questions. However, regarding what Chilly already told you, you might want to try to ask a more specific question, e.g. "how can I approach my friend with them trying to scam me?" or similar. If you can't think of a precise question, you're welcome to ask your question in the sandbox, where people will be pleased to help you write an on-topic question. :) – avazula Aug 7 '18 at 11:45
  • @Daniel attorneys are very expensive where I live and it's my observation many people who commit scams get away with it if it's beneath $10,000. He would just hire a defense lawyer anyway. – Donttryit Aug 7 '18 at 12:56
  • @Donttryit: I don´t see what defense there is for things like forging a document. Have you actually asked a lawyer for a quote on initial counselling? It´s often no that expensive as you think. You don´t have to go to court - often enough a well put and legally founded letter works wonders on ones willingness to negotiate. – user6109 Aug 7 '18 at 12:59
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You have a very weird situation on your hand. I see that you have noted that you can't really prove it to your friends but I presume you are thinking that you need to prove it beyond reasonable doubt and that isn't really the case. I presume the value of the lost work isn't too high because you have not taken legal action yet.

How I would approach the situation is start by addressing the ex friend with the fake name he provided to you. This should spark the interest of your friends and they would inquire why you do that. From there you can give a short explanation to what happened. I would phrase the explanation in a somewhat humorous way, something like:

Well, Mr John Smith approached me to develop a piece of software for him and he never payed me. I later traced the identity back to Ex friends name. It isn't important enough to bring to court but if wants to be John Smith I will call him John Smith.

They might just laugh, they might join in on the joke. Having them inquire about the issue ends up much better for you as it doesn't sound that much like empty slandering or gossips.

I know you feel betrayed but sometimes losing some amount of money to get rid of a fake friend ends up better for you in the long run.

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It's going to be really, really hard to do this in an informal setting like among a social group of friends, especially if he's heading you off with preemptive lies. Your friends simply may not believe you, and they are not a court of law, so formal evidence and proof will carry different weight there.

Your documentation (from comments above) is your best (and only) bet. Your friend's position is supported by his (fake) contemporaneous documentation. Your best defense is your own. You obviously can't have a copy of a contract that you never signed because it never existed, but the information you do have (communications with this fake persona) likely contradicts it.

Additionally, your friend using a fake persona at all should weaken his argument substantially, and establish that he is less than honest. His explanations since then sound like they are inconsistent, at least in that he is not producing a specific case for his being correct but rather generating lies on-demand to deal with your accusations. Inconsistencies in his explanations may also be persuasive to your friends.

Finally, official action against him will be convincing. You've already gone to the police, but as they told you this is likely not worth their time and so a criminal conviction is probably out of reach. The more typical approach, in my understanding, would be for you to bring a lawsuit against him for anything you think he is guilty of and that you can prove-- theft (in the case of getting the program through deceit and never paying you, despite having agreed to), defamation, slander, and others. A judgment against him in such a suit would be a powerful, easy to convey and understand piece of evidence in your favor. Even a small claims court judgment in your favor would provide this.

If you consider a lawsuit, consult a lawyer. Do not rely on advice from the internet (maybe consider asking on Legal.SE for some initial guidance, but that's not a substitute). A lawyer can advise you on how a suit would proceed, your chances of success, other options that may exist for you, and a (rough) estimate of costs.

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First thing, what I would do, is talk the whole situation over with a Lawyer. I think it is necessary to get a good understanding of your options, before you decide how to go further.

The things you list amount to some serious crimes. Fraud, forgery, reputational damage ...

I think it is imperative that you draw a line and fight back. If you just take the loss and move on - as you say his behavior does not quite add up - so it makes you look kind of guilty.

If you are absolutely sure you are right, fighting back should be no problem. If you trust the father, maybe you can outline the severity of you ex-friends actions to him, and make him come to his senses.

If any attempt for a amicable solution fails, consider going to court. If he get´s convicted, that´s a pretty strong argument for your friends.

  • "as you say his behavior does not quite add up - so it makes you look kind of guilty" yes, I believe he is purposefully doing this to make him look innocent – Donttryit Aug 7 '18 at 12:57

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