It is possibly not immediately obvious but both romance and crime share a vital element that without which neither of them can work. Opportunity. The current proliferation of technologies means that there are more opportunities for both romance and crime than ever before, and in Sweet Bobby both of them collide in a catfishing scam of unprecedented proportions.
Kirat Assi, is a young, vibrant woman with a career as both a marketer and a radio host. From the British Sikh community she is exactly the kind of woman who you could see only growing in confidence and skill, and becoming highly successful. She would easily be considered a catch by most people’s standards. She does catch the interest of an acquaintance, Bobby, the older brother of a cousins boyfriend, and their relationship blossoms very slowly into one that is romantic. So far so lovely. However it isn’t long into the relationship that Bobby starts to show a darker, more controlling side. Kirat stops seeing people and doing things she would normally do, she starts to lose an amount of weight that worries those around her. However whenever she starts to question Bobby, to pull away from the relationship, his health, already precarious, rapidly declines, and Kirat is pulled back in.
What makes the scam so devastating is the length of time the relationship carries on, for ten years, with Bobby always ducking and diving, giving Kirat enough hope to mean she gets pulled back in, but never truly appearing, or moving things forward.
Eventually, through a series of circumstances Kirat confronts the real Bobby, who has been living quite happily with his wife and child totally oblivious to either her existence, or that of the fake Bobby who was impersonating him and his life. This is when things really fall apart, because very soon after the person who has spent so long pretending to be Bobby, abusing and manipulating Kirat, reveals themselves. It is hard to describe just how shocking this revelation is, and if it was a shock to us as listeners, understanding the devastation Kirat must have felt feels unfathomable.
It is at this point that the podcast changes from the retelling of a crime story into an investigation. Because despite this individual confessing, to more than one person, they have never been arrested, for either identify theft, or coercive control. They have a high powered career, have recently got engaged and to all intents and purposes appears to be living a for filling life while Kirat finds herself shunned and struggling to pull the pieces of her life back together.
Host, and investigative journalist Alexi Mostrous, speaks to several lawyers trying to understand exactly why the police have not charged the duplicitous, mendacious individual. It is a testament to Kirat’s strength and integrity that she continues to work with a legal team to pursue the case, when many of those close to her appear to want her to forget it all and “move on.”
However moving on quickly, may be possible if you’ve experience something that lasted only a few weeks or months, but Kirat lost a whole decade, with an alarmingly sophisticated scam and a deep betrayal. While it is unlikely that many cat fishing scams people experience are as elaborate, with a cast of many charactors, they do happen, and are probably underreported due to the sense of shame that victims feel, something that abusers have relied on to protect themselves for time immemoral. In telling her story, with the expert help of Alex, Kirat not only frees herself, there is power in speaking the truth, but she also asks important questions of those who are there not only to protect us, but whom we also expect to help deliver justice when things do go wrong. Currently Kirat is a sole voice in the wilderness, but I do not believe she will be on her own, for very long.