Last night, my cell phone rings and there was a woman on the other end of the line that sounded very confused. As we talked on, I understood her confusion, and have to admit that I became a bit confused... and angered myself.
The conversation began something like this... (recalling it to the best of my ability)
"Hello, is this Darrell Garrett?" I said that it was, and she said, "I'm calling to check something out." I'm thinking, "What now?" She said something to the effect that she did not quite know where to begin, and then asked if I was Darrell Garrett, who was pastor in Galesburg, Illinois. I again said that I was, and she sighed a big, heavy sigh, and said, "Well, then, your identity has been stolen." I asked how she knew this, and she told me that she had met a Darrel Garret (note the spelling) through an internet dating service, who was using my name and my photograph on this dating service. She told me how that they had been talking, and that he had told her that he was a business man, and again, using my picture and name, with the slight misspelling. Somehow during the course of their discussions/emails, she had become suspicious of him and someone recommended to her that she Google the name Darrel Garrett and see what popped up. So, when she did, she runs across my church website and my photograph on it, and now she is thinking that she is dealing with a whacked out preacher who is cheating on his wife on an dating service. So, she confronted him by email, asking him about the fact that it said he was a preacher in Illinois. So he weaves this story about how his wife and died and how he blamed God for taking his wife away, and that he had now left the church and had gone to California first, and was now living in Atlanta. He apologized for his deceit and assured her that he was now being honest. She told him that she was going to call the church to verify his story, and he begged her not to do that, saying it would cause so much trouble for the church.
After mulling this over for some time, she finally realizes that the guy she has been chatting and emailing with was most likely not the Darrell Garrett who was a pastor, yet she new my picture was there on the website, so she realizes she has been had. This prompted her to phone me just to make sure that it was not some weird, twisted preacher playing games. As we talked for about 30 minutes or so, she was convinced that I was not the guy that she had been communicating with. She was mad. I was mad. Both of us were stunned that some low life knucklehead would do something like this. She forwarded me copies of the emails that this guy had been sending to her, so I now have in my possession his Internet IP address, and as soon as I am recovered from my surgery, the first of next week, I am taking all this info to the States Attorney to see what justice can be done. Once we have the person's identity, I will also be securing a lawyer to a lawsuit for damages done to my name and reputation. I really hope this guy enjoyed himself for the past week, because I am going to make him pay dearly for it.