I suppose there’s only one place to start here: the beginning…
About 3 or 4 months ago I opened my Facebook to find an extremely heartwarming message from a sweet mother of two living in upstate New York named Kat. She had sent the message to both Pon and myself, writing to tell us how her 6 year old daughter named Hunter had fallen in love with our toys and artwork. Hunter had been diagnosed with leukemia several years back, had gone through chemo, and was now currently in remission. Recently, she had become completely obsessed with Dunnys and our art and she was now spending all of her free time researching our art, the history of toys, Dunnys, etc. She was fascinated and her mom was very thankful because it took her mind away from the fears of her real life.
Her story hit home with me. Kat had written it all out simply to say thank you. She didn’t ask for anything. Just to let us know that we had touched her daughter’s life. It was the kind of story that gave my work meaning… that I could catch the imagination of a 6 year old girl and inspire her. To this day it’s probably one of the most wonderful compliments I have ever received. It was a beautiful letter. I called Pon immediately.
We were both moved by her letter and after I got off the phone with Pon I messaged Kat back immediately. Expressing my thanks and to ask for her address so I could send Hunter a little care package. A blank Munny, some coloring books, a keychain, some odds and ends I had lying around. The least I could do.
When I had been on the phone with Pon, he had made some comment about Hunter’s Mom, that Kat was drop dead gorgeous. I hadn’t noticed, simply because I wasn’t her FB “friend” yet, so I couldn’t see any of her details or photos. But in the meantime, a few messages had shot back and forth between Kat and myself. She was absolutely adorable in print. She has quite the way with words, witty, charming, and a match for my own sense of humor.
It turned out she was in LA that weekend and I was actually heading down myself on Monday or Tuesday for a gallery opening. I offered to meet her and Hunter but she already had a full schedule and doubted she would have the spare time (and actually ended up having to fly out early because her Mom had a stroke back in Wisconsin).
Now when she finally befriended me on Facebook, I saw her info and photos and I was taken aback to say the least. I’m a sucker for a pretty face and she was absolutely gorgeous, F’in adorable. She was 35, tied into the entertainment industry and travelled a lot because of it. Worked part time at a radio station in the mornings, worked for a Blue Cross subsidiary the rest of the day, and did community work at the hospital Hunter had gone too. She had a vast musical palette, was downright hilarious, and an absolute sweetheart. It didn’t hurt that she confessed how much she loved going to strip clubs and that she had a dirty streak a mile wide. Over the next few days and weeks, our conversation deepened, we flirted, messages went back and forth, and she kept pestering me for my phone number so “Hunter could thank me in person” (a thinly veiled excuse for her to talk to me on the phone) Ha!
She only had a handful of other friends on her FB account, the 2 most active were Dave, an old buddy from Pennsylvania with a 6 year old son that was a friend of Hunters, and Charles (some names have been altered to protect their anonymity), a buddy in LA that she was close with. When I had first started talking to Kat, her FB status had said she was in a relationship with Charles but she explained that she had made that status change to chase off some guy that had been stalking her online. She loved Charles as a friend but she didn’t see a future together. I in turn joked that I was gonna steal her from Charles. What.
I finally gave her my number and over the following weeks the conversation got deeper and deeper. I learned more and more about her and we flirted nonstop. Kat travelled back and forth to LA a lot. While her daughter, Hunter, lived with her, she had another 3 year old daughter that lived with the daughter’s father in LA. Kat was twice married, her first husband was named Michael Veracruz, and he had been a fireman in tower 2 when it collapsed during 9/11. She had stayed in NY for a short while after but eventually moved upstate to Rochester. Michael had been the love of her life. It had devastated her. She had remained close with his family and actually, several years later, ended up remarrying his brother Eric. This would’ve struck me as quite bizarre if I hadn’t happened to have read an article about this. Relating how widows from 9/11 had begun relationships with their x-husbands best friends and such, months and years after 9/11. It was an interesting read. Now she was still married to Eric, who was a surgeon in Rochester, but they had been separated about 3 years. The guy was a royal piece of shit according to everything she told me about him, the POS had even knocked her down a flight of stairs. Kat, had gone through quite the rollercoaster in the last decade. It was time for her luck to change.
On a side note, when the recent Hello Kitty exhibition opened in LA, Kat had planned to fly out and meet me there but several days beforehand, her company had gotten some huge project with an incredibly short deadline. Her vacation time wasn’t approved and was forced to work weekends for the next couple of weeks until the project was completed. She was quite heartbroken about the whole thing. She was beginning to fall for me…
Kat and Hunter’s birthdays are only a few days apart (around Halloween) and they’re both huge Hello Kitty fans so I picked up a couple of things for her and Hunter while I was there and sent her another little care package out. And being the hopeless romantic that I am, I also sent some flowers to her office for her birthday. She joked that I didn’t know her real name, Kat being her nickname and the fact that she went by her maiden name at work. I had already gotten her first name, Bonnye and after pestering her for a few days (and her toying with me in return) she finally gave me her last name: Bonnye “Kat” Fortmann. Bonnye, what a cute name. Flowers were sent, I did my best to embarrass her at work.
And while I’m mentioning Hunter’s birthday, another little side note. Hunter’s father, Eric, had wanted to have Hunter’s party catered, so he had arranged it all and on the day of the party he stiffed Kat, she ended up having to write out a check for the party that she couldn’t cover. See, he’s a real work of art. And in the middle of the party, Hunter had pulled Kat aside to talk to her, she couldn’t wait any more, she had thought I was going to surprise her and wanted to know when I was showing up. Her Mom told her I wasn’t coming and she broke down in tears. Kat’s best friend Brian (also a friend of Eric & Michael’s when they were younger) had to take Hunter outside to calm her down.
Bear with me here, these little side stories will all make sense shortly…
Now when Hunter found out her Mom was actually talking to me on the phone she got quite jealous, it was too cute. And she would get all embarrassed and wouldn’t talk to me when her Mom tried to corner her with the phone. She was drawing on her Munny for me, Kat would text me from Target because Hunter wanted to pick out a candy bar to send me and needed to know what my favorite was (I told her anything chocolate BTW, which didn’t help matters, and actually made Hunter’s decision even harder). Kat would call me and tell me Hunter had asked if I would ever color with her, which I of course would! Hunter had developed quite the crush on me and Kat was beginning to get worried she would upset Hunter at some point. I just thought it was all kinda silly. And one night, while I was on the phone with Kat, she mentioned that her daughter had gotten awfully quiet while watching TV, she thought Hunter was trying to listen in on Kat’s conversation with me. After we got off the phone, Kat called me later to tell me this, Hunter had turned and said “you know, it’s okay if you talk to HIM”… it was simply too cute. She had given us approval.
I was counting the days until I could finally meet these two. They had both fallen for me. At some point Kat started telling me she loved me… I knew I was falling head over heels for her but I would not say those words in return, I simply couldn’t cheapen that experience by saying it over the phone for the first time and, well simply, I just felt I had to wait to meet her in person. She was stealing my heart though, the conversation never stopped… talking or texting all day and night. I knew she was quite the talker, she also talked with her buddies Dave and Charles all the time too. I’m amazed she could get as much work as she did get done. Anyways…
I was flying out to NY for the Kidrobot Munny Show opening and she was going to drive down from Rochester, bringing Hunter with her. We were finally going to meet. We were both ecstatic. And nervous. And everything else that gets rolled up into meeting the person you’ve been steadily falling for over the course of several months but have yet to meet face to face!
Her best friend Bryan even sent me an email a week or so before our planned trip, asking what my intentions were. He asked me to not tell Kat he had done it, that she would be pissed at him but he and his friends were worried about Kat going to meet some guy she had met online by herself. He told me her and Hunter wouldn’t shut up about me. I thought it was quite cute and did my best to put him at ease that my intentions were honest.
And then, the day before I was to fly out, Kat disappeared. Wasn’t answering text messages, didn’t answer her work or cel phone. I figured she was just stressing over getting her work wrapped up before she left for the week. But it was worse… she finally called me late in the day from Wisconsin. Her Mom had had another stroke, she had taken Hunter to Eric’s, and she had jumped on the first plane out. Kat was beside herself with worry. She was a total wreck, her Mom meant the world to her, and she was so upset that our plans had fallen through. She actually thought I’d be mad at her. Sure, I was quite bummed but I was only concerned about her mother and her own health at this point. She was in tears, hadn’t eaten or slept. She was a mess. I did my best to calm her down.
What followed over the next four days in New York was a total headfuck for me. When I landed in NY the next day, I tried calling Kat and she was MIA. I was really starting to worry now. If her Mom passed away, Kat would be a basketcase (she was a bit unstable at any thought of losing her Mom). I didn’t hear anything until early the next day, the day after the Munny Show opening. I don’t think I slept much of anything. I got a text from her cel phone, from Kat’s niece informing me Kat had collapsed from exhaustion and dehydration the day before and the hospital had admitted her and sedated her. Her niece had Kat’s cel phone and had figured out that I was the guy she was supposed to meet and sent me the occasional update. Meanwhile, I found an email from Kat’s best friend Bryan (I hadn’t checked my work account since I left SF) explaining everything that had happened to Kat and that her daughter Hunter was still on her way to the Munny Show opening with her grandpa. Fuck, I didn’t know they were coming, I had left the show opening early! Poor Hunter…
Kat was kept sedated for most of the next couple days. Her niece kept me up to date, her Mom had woken up and was communicative, but they were keeping Kat sedated. I was still sick with worry, I couldn’t turn off. Over the next two days I didn’t sleep much, I walked over 20 miles around Manhattan. Walking soothes me at times… and I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I walked past the NYSE, all around the southwestern tip on Saturday, up to 40-something and across to Grand Central Station, then back down. I went south then around the east side on Sunday and then across the Williamsburg Bridge and back. It was overcast and rained a lot, was fitting for my mood. Sunday, I had packed everything in my backpack and carried it with me. I was contemplating hopping aboard a plane to Wisconsin.
I finally talked to Kat on Sunday Eve. They had brought her out of her sedation, she was quite hilarious at this point, totally drugged still, didn’t make much sense at times, but I was just glad to finally talk to her and know she was okay.
I went back to SF, a tad depressed. Life was a bitch at times but I knew I’d get through it, we’d have another opportunity to meet…
…and here’s the punchline:
NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EXIST
Ain’t life a bitch?
Actually, let me rephrase that, besides Charles, Dave, and the real Bonnye Fortmann, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EXIST.
Kat Veracruz, Hunter, Eric, Michael, Bryan, Hunter’s grandpa and everyone else she may have told me about over the course of 3 or so months are all figments of Bonnye’s imagination. Bonnye Fortmann is a 44 year old office worker living in Rochester, New York, that gets by in life by living in these secret worlds/storylines she imagines. What some would call a sociopath. She stole the photos on her profile from some poor girl on Adult Friend Finders. Her whole life is a lie.
How did I figure it all out? A huge thank you goes to a couple of my close friends. They did the background check that put in place the suspicions of the shit I didn’t see. And another huge thanks to Jazmin for being my partner in Private Investigation for a week. It actually became quite fun. I wasn’t just wrapped up in her “stories” though, it was way more than just that. Now you understand why I added those little side note details above, to try and show how deep it all went. I have actually left out massive parts to this tale. I do not doubt that she believes everything when she is in it. She gets upset at her husband that doesn’t exist, cries at things her imaginary daughter says, thanks her best friend Bryan for things that never happen, I do not doubt that she is/was truly in love with myself, Charles, and Dave at different points. It’s quite a headfuck. Sends chills through your spine at times.
And she never did it for money, I confirmed this with Dave. It’s all to fill some sort of emotional void. She feeds off of our love, our conversation.
Now to make a really long story a tad shorter, after New York, my friends got suspicious and ran a background check on Bonnye Veracruz (not knowing her “maiden name”) and they came up with nothing. I mentioned this jokingly to Kat and she bugged out, was furious with me. I realize that doing a background check on someone could be a violation of trust and could be upsetting but she took it a bit far. She did eventually calm down over a few days but that reaction festered in my mind. And about a week later, I woke up in the middle of the night freaking out to some extent, and started to put pieces of the puzzle together. Why was her name on FB and her “real” name completely different? Why did our attempts to meet fall through? Why were the majority of her Facebook friends guys in other cities/states? And no friends lived locally? Why had I never actually talked to her daughter on the phone… and then, everything started to reveal itself. Now I was in for the real headfuck. I ran my own background check on her in the middle of the night and there it was, born in 1965, she’s 44, not 35. And why is the very first Google result for a search on her name a background check service? And why are there so many variations of her name listed in the background report? “Bonnye Lynn Fortmann” “Bonnye L Fortmann” “Bonnye Fortman” “Bonnie Fortmann” “Lynn Fortmann” “Fortmann Bonnye”
I had nothing left in me, I was exhausted, I confronted her with this age difference and she bugged out, pissed that I had done a background check on her, she was in tears, furious… She explained something that she had mentioned a month earlier, that she had an older sister that had stolen her identity years ago and screwed up her credit. I didn’t know what to believe. I was still very confused, I had to know 100%. The rug had been pulled out from under me but I didn’t know where to stand. She hung up the phone. And I knew then that I’d never talk to Kat Veracruz ever again.
I waited a couple of days to see if she would calm down, would reach out to me and explain things further. And nothing happened… So I sent a message to Charles on Tuesday. I knew he was real. One of the girls at the Kidrobot LA store had met him when he muled an 8” Dunny release for Kat. That poor guy, I think he thought he was her boyfriend, he had no clue. I dropped a bomb on him when I wrote, asking if he had ever actually met her. Sure enough, same story, every time they had went to meet, something had crept up. And I realized that he had probably been supposed to meet her when she had been in LA and had ran off to Wisconsin at the last minute for her “Mom’s” first stroke. When I finally got him on the phone, he was pissed, seemed to be more upset that Kat was talking to someone else than the fact I was trying to explain that she didn’t exist. He got off the phone and called her… I’m pretty sure he figured it out but I didn’t hear much of anything from him after that. Just a quick note telling me he was done with all of this. Sorry Charles, I didn’t know.
After that, I typed it up and messaged her and all of her friends on FB explaining things. And waited for the replies to come back. Some were surprised or just friends of someone that knew her but nobody had ever met her… and then Dave wrote me. Dave lives in PA with his 6 year old son that supposedly was best friends with Hunter. Now Dave’s my best buddy. He had known her 3 years… he had realized something was weird a year or so ago and had stopped talking to her for a year but he could never figure it out. Since then we’ve been trading stories, her shit was deep. 3 years? Wow. Hell, he’d actually driven past her house at one point, in an attempt to figure it all out… (which btw, is a house next door to the address she gave us, the # she gave us doesn’t exist)
After that, me and Jazmin spent a huge chunk of the next week doing background checks. Amazing what you can find. We’re pretty sure her real name is Bonnye Fortmann, we found her cel phone registered in her mom’s name. We think she does actually work for the company she states, we have email addresses, coworker names, fax numbers, and she’s received flowers sent there. We found all her past residences and neighbors. We proved neither Hunter, nor Eric, nor Michael, nor even her best friend Bryan exists. We found her Myspace page. Hell we even found photos of her father’s grave and mother’s future plot out in Wisconsin. We found her home (love Google street view). We found her Mom’s house. We found the landline she uses to fwd to her work #. We found all sorts of info… but I’m pretty sure we’ll never figure it all out. We can’t find a relative named Bonnye attached to her mother, who knows, maybe she stole that identity 10+ years ago… Short of driving out there, going to her office or stalking her house, and confronting her in person I think we’ll never know it all. But it’s time to let that go. Perhaps writing this finishes this chapter.
I contacted Facebook weeks ago but they have yet to remove her account. I suppose it doesn’t matter, I don’t think she’ll ever use that account again. She never logged back on once I blew her story. I would contact the police in Rochester but what are they gonna do, she hasn’t exactly broken any laws. I know she has a ton of alternate email addresses (she mentioned/bragged about it once) so I know she’ll resurface in another form, with a different name, someplace else. My only fear is that if she does this to an unstable person, she will end up with a suicide on her hands, or if the guy’s psycho, he figures it out and goes after her in person.
However, if Google does its job right, this story will now turn up any time anybody searches for info on “Bonnye Fortmann”, or any of the various subtle alternate names she uses. And who knows, she told her coworkers about me, heaven forbid one of them reads my blog.
But I’m not angry. I know she doesn’t do this to purposefully hurt people. But I do pity her, as a human being. I know how truly witty and charming she can be, what a great conversationalist she is, hell, perhaps she could have become a world renowned actor if she had chosen a different path in life. But what a sad life she now leads.
So Bonnye, I know you’ll read this. From one caring human being to another, please get help.