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Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married
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Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,106 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Abby Ellin was shocked to learn that her fiancé was leading a secret life. But as she soon discovered, the world is full of people who aren't what they seem.

From Abby Ellin's first date with the Commander, she was caught up in a whirlwind. Within six months he'd proposed, and they'd moved in together. But soon, his exotic stories of international espionage began to
Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by PublicAffairs
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Average rating 3.25  · 
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 ·  1,106 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second time and third time till at length it becomes habitual." - Thomas Jefferson

Abby Ellin was duped by a man called "The Commander". He told her that he was a doctor with a secret job, he worked for the government and could not give her details about what his job ensued. He went on secret missions and sent her back amazing photos of his time fighting espionage overseas. The only problem, he was not who he said he was,
Valerity (Val)
Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married

After the author, a writer who considers herself pretty savvy when it comes to people, finds that she’s been totally conned in her personal relationship, she decides to write a book about that experience and more. She tells what happened with “The Commander” as she called him, a doctor who was a Marine and took off all over doing deeds of good at a moment’s notice. All top secret and hush-hush, of course. She had a healthy
I was listening to this as everything about AJ Finn/Dan Mallory came to the surface and couldn't stop thinking "of course."

Ellin's story begins with being duped by a man called The Commander. He seemed too good to be true and, ultimately, he was. He played her, as well as numerous women before her, and that's where the book gets really great. Ellin digs into what makes some people choose to develop false identities and what it is that makes others believe it.

I admit to being someone who is
Marianne K
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wow, a book about dupers, and liars, what's not to like!? A very interesting subject that the Liberal author could not resist using to make multiple digs at the current administration in D.C. I was willing to forgive the first time right at the beginning of the book, and then the second time a few pages later, but it wore thin after a while. If I'd wanted to read a political book skewering Donald Trump, then I would have sought one out. I really dislike it when authors do this. Why alienate ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-brnri
If you're intuitive when it comes to people, you really don't need to read this. In fact, reading it may be a bit painful for you, as it was for me.

First, the good: this book gathers a lot of interesting stories about people duped financially, romantically, and otherwise. Tbh, it was kind of like reading a gossip rag and I love me a gossip rag. The one story about a girl's bestie faking cancer for 5 years had me on the edge of my chair. The writing style was polished yet casual, which I really
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Surprisingly captivating! This book had me turning the pages well after midnight and well after my eyes wanted to close. The author tells the stories of duplicitous individuals in a fascinating and engaging manner. I was hooked form page one. I appreciated the scientific anecdotes alongside the enthralling narratives. Five stars.
Linda Scott
Feb 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Pure garbage. I wanted to finish just be done with it, but had to give up less than half-way through. I don't like to be angry about how badly something is written. If you don't have anything to say, don't say anything.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
The personal stories and case studies were interesting but everything in between is by far the poorest quality writing I’ve endured all year.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly fascinating. While author got duped, she writes about lying and deception and how we all can fall various ways. Excellent read!

Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The personal accounts were good readind material, all the other info put me to sleep
Jamie Canaves
True Crime Memoir For Social Science Fans (TW suicide/ rape/ briefly mentions cases with pedophile)

I love true crime memoirs–any memoir especially where the author just bares all–and have always loved social science so this hit a lot of yeses for me. Abby Ellin was basically duped by a conman and she tells her story here–interestingly enough, the two things I thought should have been the biggest red flags were actually the things he wasn’t lying about. She then also looks into why people lie,
Nov 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: psychology
Author Abby Ellin starts off her book by telling the story of how she almost married a con man in the Navy. Apparently all her investigative journalism skills were in hibernation during the time she dated and was engaged to the man; since he told her story after story that made him sound like a superhero and a secret agent. Yes, she had doubts, doubts that were shouted out by "lonliness, desire, compromise, love, his Big Life and his upstandingness". Not trying to be overly suspicious here, but ...more
Denise Mullins
Feb 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
So disappointing! This is a pseudo- scientific study to validate how the author fell prey to a second-rate con man and repeated this gullible trend with a second man shortly thereafter. She draws on an endless grocery list of liars, swindlers, and sociopaths through history- even resorting to the character switch in "A Tale of Two Cities". While she attempts to interject some humor, it simply doesn't mask her bitterness and obsessed train of thought.
Ultimately, she sounds like a superficial,
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Abby Ellin explores the reality of the pathological liar in our society in all it's permutations. She was involved in 2010 with the Commander, a man who boasted of CIA links, covert missions, and links to famous people. As a woman who was married to a pathological liar, I could readily relate to her bewilderment at being duped - these liars are eminently persuasive.
The book is fascinating- exploring the concept on a personal, and then historical level.
Liz V.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ellin undertook to study liars and the people who are taken in by the lies and did so because of two relationships with liars. As a journalist, Ellin felt that she had a well developed sense of lie versus truth, and wanted to understand what, if anything in her, allowed her to be duped.

The problem is the dichotomy in her approach--part scholarly, with footnotes, and part anecdotal, with the f-bomb marking seriousness.
Aug 03, 2019 marked it as abandoned
Changed my mind about reading this after about 9 reviews I can see that the author is an idiot! Too bad she got sucked in but con artists are out there preying on everyone. Be careful.
Laura Jean
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
So I found out that I've got a perfect personality to get duped. Frankly, it's just my introversion and luck that I haven't. Hiding under the bed now....
3.5 stars. Really interesting look at lying liars who lie. It's crazy to think about the people around us who are living in a puddle of lies. I knew a woman in college who was a compulsive liar, but luckily I wasn't in close enough range to suffer from it. Ellin tells about her ex-fiance who told so many lies (about his job, his family, his relationships, his OTHER FIANCEE, etc) that it's not surprising that it unraveled. We like to tell ourselves we'd be smarter and less gullible, but that's ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This wasn't really the book I was expecting it to be, but I still enjoyed it.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Loads of case studies and extensive research, but at the end of each chapter I couldn’t really say what point she was making because there were so many it all became too much. Disappointing.
Robyn Murphy
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This isn’t a memoir but rather a study of human nature, and I found it completely engrossing. Ellin, an engaging writer, is able to merge raw reflections and science into something I truly wanted to read.
Jill Blevins
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are willing to trust people, enjoy seeing the good in everyone, and have been taken advantage of more than you care to admit, read this book immediately. It will open your eyes and save you a lifetime of harsh, expensive, gut wrenching pain and misery. I promise.

The first chapter is like a beautiful yet touching New Yorker story about a con artist and the methods he uses to inflict the author into becoming untrusting of her own usually strong judgment. It's a perfect story of how a strong
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Audible purchase, so listened rather than read!

The reading of this was very acted and in some places felt over the top, however it was read predominantly well and you felt it was her story (despite it not being Ellen herself)

3* May indicate to some that this book is just ‘ok’ and not worth buying, however this is a positive 3*; a book which informs, intrigues and tells some good stories within of people who have been ‘duped’ or do the ‘dupping’.

Chapter one really got me hooked as it tells the
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
breezy writing style (ex: after she takes a vacation in Brazil and has a fling with a hot guy she meets there, she offers as an aside "Oh. Did I mention he was fifteen years younger? Sometimes, I really am my own hero" (p. 220)) as she takes a spin through her own experience of being conned by a man to whom she became engaged, which leads her to do a deep dive into why people lie, why we are too trusting sometimes, research on lie detection, etc. etc.

I admire her willingness to examine issue of
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Despite the fact that I have experience via multiple family members who had been duped both personally and professionally, I had no idea that deceit/lying were such pervasive and frequent occurrences in everyday life. The author uses her own unhappy experiences as a jumping-off point for her exposition and analysis, as well as her confessions as one who was duped of the challenges faced post-duping. She addresses the questions of why and how people (usually male) perpetrate fraud, and the ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
I did not particularly enjoy this book. It is well-written and the Audible narrator is excellent but it is not what I expected. After hearing the author interviewed on the New York Times podcast I thought the book would delve into the men who dupe women and the women who are duped, and even into schemes that involve duping such as Bernie Madoff’s scheme. There is some of that, and I enjoyed those parts, but much of the book felt like a treatise on garden-variety lying and I did not enjoy those ...more
Steve Silberberg
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well written, well researched, compelling, engaging and funny. Duped is about (and written by) a woman who was engaged to a pathological liar who regularly told grandiose but still believable lies, not only as a cover for his indiscretions but also because prevarication defined him and masked his private psychological shortcomings. The book also delves into the dupeage of others and seeks deeper answers by researching lying, trust and unspoken social contracts. Although the book isn't meant to ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of really interesting info in this book, especially for writers who might be thinking about a duplicitous character or plotline. The author also shares her personal story; it's both hard to believe and totally plausible. Kind of scary how many liars are out there. I'd read a similar book a few years back, but it was nice to have the refresher on the content. I'll be a little more suspicious these days!
Tracy Caruso
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. If you’re interested in this subject matter, you’ll love it. You’ll learn some very interesting things. Ex: I didn’t know that gaslighting is illegal in England. I also learned about affinity fraud. This was a fascinating read. Author Abby is the type of person I want to be friends with.
Jennifer Summers
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The cover and title of this book doesn’t do it any justice - it sounds like a cheesy self help book for people who have been lied to, but it’s actually more of an analysis and discussion of lying as a whole. It has some really interesting points in it and was an enjoyable read. Nothing too ground breaking but worthwhile nonetheless.
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Abby Ellin is an American author and journalist. The author of two books, including Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married, she writes regularly for the New York Times, and has contributed to Time, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast, among other publications.

Ellin grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and attended Brookline High School. She holds a BS in Communications
“In plain English: people who lie to themselves make good liars. And good liars usually have more sex.” 1 likes
“Like Ingrid Bergman in the film Gaslight, whose husband has convinced her that she’s delusional when all along he’s set her up, the victims often lose faith in their ability to determine what’s real and what isn’t. (“Gaslight” has since become a psychological term, meaning to deliberately manipulate someone.) Being duped contaminates your entire sense of self.” 1 likes
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