The 'saga' of Amy Player and the fleecing of the LOTR fandom

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Title: The 'saga' of Amy Player and the fleecing of the LOTR fandom
Creator: Mississippiene
Date(s): September 12, 2011
Medium: online
Fandom:
Topic:
External Links: The 'saga' of Amy Player and the fleecing of the LOTR fandom; archive link
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The 'saga' of Amy Player and the fleecing of the LOTR fandom is a 2011 essay by Mississippiene at "The Straight Dope."

Some Topics Discussed in the Essay, and Comments

Excerpts from the Essay

Amy Player has gone under many names. I'm going to stick to the name Amy Player, which is his legal, birth name, for simplicity's sake. When Amy first popped up online in... was it Due South fandom, I think? [1] -- she was a young girl who claimed to have been the longtime victim of an organized sex slavery ring, spinning extremely detailed accounts of sexual abuse, only to have escaped her evil masters and being adopted into a loving family. No basis in reality has been found for any of these statements.

A couple of years later, Amy Player got involved with Lord of the Rings fandom. Things took off from there. First, Amy Player discovered she was a lesbian. Then, no, she wasn't a lesbian, he was the mind of a man trapped in the body of a woman. No, that wasn't right, he was the soul of a Hobbit, trapped in the mind of a man, trapped in the body of a woman. Amy was claiming to have the dreams of the Hobbit, Merry, from the LOTR movies. At some point, Amy met a female fan, OrangeBlossom, online and moved across the country to live with her.

A lot of crazy fuckery ensued, which would merely have been sad had it not exploded into what it did. Amy and OrangeBlossom apparently ripped off OrangeBlossom's (henceforth, OB) ex-husband for some money, trashed OB's home, and abandoned a car in the streets of Salem, OR. They also got a lot of attention online by claiming to be friends with some of the LOTR actors, and claiming knowledge that actors Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan were in a secret relationship with each other. They even started a livejournal, supposedly belonging to Elijah Wood, but which was actually written by Amy Player -- who claimed to be channeling Elijah Wood's spirit.

When this fraud was found out, OB announced that Amy Player had committed suicide. OB moved on soon enough with a "new" lover, calling himself Jordan Wood, who was -- surprise surprise -- really Amy Player, alive and well, after all. Amy-as-Jordan had a bizarre backstory as an ex-child star/stuntman/Elijah Wood's cousin. OB and Amy were helping run a large LOTR fansite called BitofEarth.com, and they put out a call to start a charity event. A screening of one of the LOTR movies raised several thousand dollars, ostensibly for the Reading is Fundamental group, but really used to line Amy and OB's pockets. This 'success' caught the attention of another LOTR fan called Turimel. Turimel was an average suburban mom who was thrilled to help out with a charitible event, especially after LOTR actor Sean Astin signed on to help.
After recruiting Sean Astin to help them build a garden for charity, OB and Amy moved onto bigger and better things. First up was a music festival, for which no bands were booked and all the money donated for it mysteriously disappeared. Then there was a fan convention called Tentmoot, for which Amy and OB recruited numerous "celebrity" guests, most of them bit actors from the LOTR movies.

Meanwhile, Amy's dad contacts the police looking for his daughter, who turns out to have been going under the Jordan Wood persona all along. Amy had written his parents a melodramatic suicide letter, blaming Jordan Wood for stealing his girlfriend OB. Amy was also arrested for identity theft, and has been caught forging fake birth certificates and ID cards. He also stole Turimel's SS number and used it on cell phone applications and rental applications.

BUT WAIT! There's more! Amy Player and OB panhandled in L.A. for awhile before breaking up in awesomely douchey fashion -- with Amy accusing OB of stealing his son from him (this 'son', by the way, was a sparrow they had found and rehabilitated together). Then Amy switched names and fandoms to Harry Potter. Now claiming to be Andrew Blake and sure to die of a lethal heart condition -- for real-real, any moment now -- Amy also claimed that all his woes were caused by his evil twin sister. With a newly acquired Irish accent, Amy claimed to be a soldier on the run from the IRA. He also sent fake Ceast & Desist letters to Turimel, the LOTR actors, and even Leonard Nimoy, trying to intimidate everyone into not talking about the cons he'd pulled off.

Amy's most recent drama was being the only survivor of a triple homicide. Tragically, unlike all his other dramatic backstories, this one's true. Amy's response to seeing his friend murdered before his eyes was... to put out a call for donations so he could fly to New Zealand and hike across the country. Yes, really.

Sometimes I get a little ~TROLLFACE~ about awesome fandom drama, and the Amy Player saga has it all. Lies, obsession, con artists, identity theft, and Hobbit spirits. It's also an excellent cautionary tale to remind us all to be careful who we associate ourselves with -- online and offline.

Excerpts from Comments

[kushiel]:

I miss fandom_wank. I should probably get the new RSS feed, I stopped reading when the old feed broke.

She wasn't ever this malicious, but this is also why I steer clear of Cassie Cla[i]re.
[AaarMatey]:

*gets out the popcorn*

This is more entertaining than most television!
[phouka]:

I've been watching too much Criminal Minds, which is why I can answer this. Amy is far too disorganized to start and manage a cult. Notice how she moves from target to target within months? Then switches fandoms, cities, and even countries? She can take in credulous, needy people for a little while, but she can't keep her lies consistent, and within a short time, her story falls apart. Within that timeframe, though, she is a master manipulator, a predator, and a remorseless egotist.

Is she a psychopath? Sounds like she fits some of the criteria. Other possibilities are sociopath, anti-social/psychopathic disorder, histrionic disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Whatever mental debilities she's carting around, she needs to be locked up for the safety of others.
[Angel of the Lord]:

That is some industrial strength crazy. Like distilling every crazy person I've ever met at a LARP, or in a fandom group, or in Second Life, or in college, and distilling them into some ultimate crazy ubermensch.

And, really, all I can think is, thank God I've never run into this person. My track record, and they'd likely glom on like balloons on fur.
[Mississippienne]:

I've read over the stuff about Turimel, both pro and con. I don't know the woman in real life; she could be a saint, or a shrill bitch, or, more likely, something inbetween, like most of us. Even if she IS a shrill bitch, that in itself is not a crime, while Amy Player is a con artist and a criminal. Turimel may have been suckered into enabling Amy's schemes (and she was by no means the only one) but once again, that's not a crime.

I'm gonna be perfectly honest. I'm not a 'nice' person, and if I'd been taken in by someone like Amy, and seen him abuse me and my friends, and THEN seen him go on to do the same to multiple other people, with very little punishment, I'd be mad as hell. Turimel is, if anything, much calmer than I would be. If Amy Player had come into my life and wrecked this sort of havoc, I fear I would've done something rash and violent.

I'm not going to excuse Mr. Eisenburg. Ultimately, he was the triggerman and responsible for the murders. I did see Turimel point out how everyone was focused on Eisenburg, Ms. Quinn (his ex-wife/victim) and Amy Player, but ignoring poor Mr. Chambers, who also died in the onslaught. Even Amy ignores Mr. Chambers' sad fate (and notice how, in his own recounting of events, Amy all but implies he was the one who took down Eisenburg -- despite the polices' version of events showing that Amy cowered in the bathroom during Eisenburg's rampage). Amy is a crazed narcissist willing to spin any tragedy, no matter how horrific, to his benefit.

Even IF Amy had nothing to do with making Eisenburg snap, his past behavior is so suspicious that people can't help but speculate. He and OB blackmailed OB's ex-husband and stole money from him; that right there makes it suspicious that once he moves onto this new girl, Brittany Quinn, all of a sudden he's portraying her ex-husband as having locked her in storage sheds and forced her to work as a slave and the like. Almost identical to what Amy claimed OB's ex-husband had done. When you're a manipulative liar, con artist, and convicted criminal, you can't be shocked when people suspect you of all sorts of things. I'm not sure Amy caused Eisenburg to snap, but I doubt he was a good influence on the situation, either.
[GythaOgg]:

Turimel has left a bad taste in a lot of fan's mouths with her behavior - certainly trying to post to fandom_wank when the murders occurred, crowing and bragging that this tragic event proved how right and wonderful she was, didn't do much to endear her to a lot of folks. (The post got removed and she was banned from f_w permanently, and any mention of the murders is considered a 'don't go there' issue on f_w. Their point is a wank community isn't the place the place to gleefully gloat over the death of other human beings, no matter what. One of the mods is a fandom friend of very long standing.)

Again, Amy/Jordan/Andy is a psychopath and a despicable human being. However, Turimel's reporting on and attitude about the whole issue has gotten very skeevy, especially the last year or two, and she's lost supporters. Her gloating about the murders, as well as some of her statements about LGBT folks, have made a lot of her former supporters back away. She also got smacked hard by LJ for posting private information about A/J/A, including her SSN and scans of her driver's license. Righteous anger over having been scammed is one thing; but the fandom is starting to sense that Turimel has slipped over a line and it might not be safe to be too close.
[lavenderviolet]:

Turimel was getting something out of it. I don't know what, but it was something. You can't con an honest man.

If I asked my own mother for $20,000 and the situation was anything less than "I'm kidnapped by Columbian drug lords and they need ransom" she would tell me no. Normal people never give that much money to anyone, and especially never to people outside of the family.

People who do that sort of thing are generally not acting rationally. Usually that's because they are some variation on "in love." Whether it's sexual or not, something was going on there.

I don't know the person well enough to know if it was a romantic thing, but I am wondering if the con artist preyed on people in fandom because there are people in that community who are very socially awkward and may not understand normal social boundaries the way that the rest of us do.

I certainly would never give someone $20,000 unless it was a member of my immediate family in a dire life-threatening situation, but I can picture someone who is very naive/socially awkward and desperate to be liked falling for this sort of con.
[Zeriel]:

So, I have to ask. . .is this stuff ridiculously common?

It's more common nowadays. Even as late as the early 90s, it took a lot of luck for people with similar outlandish beliefs to find each other and start reinforcing behaviors. Now with the advent of the internet, it's trivial to find the other 30 people globally who believe that Anime/Game characters are real and that's enough to form a weird cult.
[Dangerosa]:

Honestly, I think most "mainstream geeks" have no idea these fen losers exist. Worrying about what the real mainstream thinks of them is of even less concern.

I think you'd be surprised at how many "mainstream geeks" are aware of the geek counterculture. DragonCon just got over - 40,000 members. Its hard to spend much time around cons and not get a inkling of the "fen losers." (Who, by the way, are certainly not all losers - there are plenty of self identified fen (I think the word is silly myself) who are not losers). And there are plenty of people who go to Cons who wouldn't identify as fen. And Cons are just part of a large interlinking geek subculture that includes Rennies, SCAdians, Gamers, War Re-enactors, LARPers, etc. (who all look down on erotic Furries :)).

Most of these people are simple a "little left of normal" - but stories like "Amy" are really not that unusual.

And I'm not saying I worry about it - but over time I have learned to be careful to whom I disclose my Con running, Rennie, SCAdian past too. Its sort of like telling some one at work you play D&D. There are four outcomes - cool!, what?, geek., and Satanist! There are enough people who have an inkling that the forth reaction isn't out of the question - and isn't the reaction I'm looking for at work.

Anyone else run into the freaky shit?

Yeah....married him. (and in the 1980s)

To give me SOME credit, he got more insane while we were together - and seem to have peaked in his "shift from consensus reality" several years after we divorced.

Even in the 1980s it wasn't hard to find these folks if you hung out in certain circles. Pagan circles (in addition to the above SCA/Rennie/LARPers/Fen) were another overlap.

We didn't have Final Fantasy though in the old days. We were restricted to believing that Tolkien was real and we were just elves left behind :rolleyes:

References

  1. Sooner than that: Star Trek: Voyager fandom as "Strwriter" and "Voyagerbabe," then onto the fandoms for Horatio Hornblower, and Sharpe.