A Harrowing Sight
“Grandma, just down that way, I saw my parents buying ice cream together.” But as soon as she heard her grandson say that, she burst into tears.
It had to have been her grandson’s imagination. He was just coping with the fact that his parents were gone. But then she decided to look over at what her grandson had described. She felt sick to her stomach, she had to be dreaming.
Trip To The Beach
For the first time in a while, the house was bustling with joy and excitement. Amanda and the kids had everything they needed in their bags, the house was tidied up, and now all left was getting in the car and driving to Santa Monica.
The three of them couldn’t wait to get there and enjoy some days of peace and quiet on the beach. What they didn’t know was that they would have an encounter there that would change their lives forever.
A Tragic Year
Amanda Harrison had been looking forward to that trip for months. It wasn’t so much that she craved spending some days at the beach; it was that she knew her grandsons could really use some vacation time in sunny California.
After all, it had been a really difficult year for them. Things hadn’t been the same for her and the kids since her daughter and son-in-law passed away in strange circumstances.
A Fatal Accident
For all Amanda knew, it all happened in a car accident. The couple, Kate and Carmine, were driving down the road of one of the state’s natural parks when the car suddenly slipped off the road and fell into a lake nearby.
The police had managed to lift the car from the waters; however, the couple’s bodies had never been found. Everyone in the couple’s circle was deeply affected by the loss, especially Kate’s mom and their two kids, Andrew and Monica, aged six and four. Since the accident, they had been living with their grandma.
One Year Later
Almost one year had passed since the dreadful event. The first few months were really painful for the three of them. Now, they were starting to come to terms with the tragedy and doing their best to carry on with their lives.
Amanda expected that trip to Sacramento to be helpful and therapeutic for everyone. Still, nothing in the world could have prepared her for what she was about to find down there.
When Amanda, Andrew, and Monica finally arrived in Sacramento after several hours on the road, they didn’t even go to the hotel first to get rid of their bags: they went straight to the beach. The kids were as excited as they could be.
None of them had ever seen the sea before. They got out of the car, ecstatic, and stared at it from the promenade. Then, they ran to the beach in excitement as Amanda walked behind them. And that’s when it all started.
Andrew Saw Something
After laying their towels down on the sand, Amanda just sat down to get some rest and watch the kids play in the water. A few minutes passed, and Andrew ran towards her. He then said some words that made Amanda shiver.
“Grandma, I’ve just seen mom and dad buying ice cream over there,” the kid said, pointing at an ice cream stand nearby. Amanda couldn’t help but tear up when she heard this. Clearly, Andrew still wasn’t over the loss of his parents. She thought of what she could say to the kid.
She Tried To Reason With Him
“Honey, that isn’t possible. Your parents passed away almost one year ago,” she said, trying not to choke up as she spoke. For the last months, it seemed like the kids were finally coming to terms with the tragedy. Were they still really in the denial phase?
“No, it’s true. They’re over there, look,” Andrew insisted, pointing at an ice cream stand nearby. Amanda took a look; instantly, she felt her stomach drop to her knees.
They Were There
Right there in front of the ice cream stand, seemingly choosing the flavors they wanted to order, were Kate and Carmine! But how could that be possible? Was she hallucinating?
She decided to call the kids and ask them to stay right close to her. Then, the three of them started following the couple. Maybe they were just two random people who looked fairly similar. But what were the chances?
Amanda couldn’t believe what she was seeing, but she fixed her eyes on the couple so she wouldn’t lose them in the crowd. They bought their ice creams and walked off the beach.
Ushering the children closer, she took them by the hand and started following them to the parking lot, where they got into a black Mercedes and drove off.
That night, Amanda lay in bed and tried to justify what she’d witnessed. They surely hadn’t really seen them. She’d only just come to terms with the loss, but now she felt like she was back at square one.
What were the chances of seeing a couple who looked exactly like her daughter and son-in-law? Was she going mad? But a niggling feeling told her that she’d know her daughter’s face anywhere. She couldn’t just forget what she’d seen.
Back To The Beach
Early the next day, Amanda got the kids ready for the beach. She was willing to sit there all day if she had to – she only hoped that the couple would come back so she could see them again.
Although she felt terrible about telling Andrew and Monica to keep an eye out and to let her know if they spotted the people who looked like their parents again, she’d be ready this time. Now, all she could do was wait. Luckily, fate was smiling down on Amanda that day.
Spotting Them Again
After staying on the beach near the ice cream stand for hours, Amanda’s plan finally paid off. The couple was there again; this time, they were walking arm-in-arm on the boardwalk. Amanda studied them until she knew she was sure.
They were more tanned than they used to be, but she’d know her daughter’s habit of flicking her hair back when she smiled anywhere. She quickly grabbed their beach gear, gathered the kids, and made a dash for her car.
After waiting for around an hour in the car, the couple finally reappeared in the parking lot and got into the same black Mercedes. Amanda watched them from a distance and carefully pulled out behind them.
She kept a distance of one car between them at all times – the last thing she wanted was for them to spot her trailing them. She wanted the truth.
Arriving At The House
With their hearts racing, Amanda and the kids followed the couple for a few streets until they finally arrived at a big house in the suburbs. Apparently, that’s where the couple lived.
At that point, there was not much else Amanda could do to solve the mystery. She decided to call the police and tell them about her suspicions. Soon enough, a police car arrived at the house. Two officers got out of the car and knocked on the door as Amanda and the kids watched from a distance.
In A Heartbeat
It all happened in a heartbeat: just a few minutes after the officers entered the house, they walked out with Carmine and Kate’s doppelgängers, who were now wearing handcuffs!
One of the officers came close to a shaken Amanda and told her that the two members of the couple were suspects in a case they had been trying to solve for months. He assured her that she would receive a phone call from the station in the next few days, telling her about the details.
The Real Story
As it turned out, that was really Kate, Amanda’s daughter; but the man wasn’t Carmine. It was his twin brother Albert. While Carmine had always been known as a kind, brilliant, hard-working man, his brother was the opposite.
He was the black sheep of the family. He was sort of a drifter, and he would always be in and out of county jail and coming up with schemes and lies to leech off his brother’s hard-earned income. One day, he decided to go even further.
He seduced Kate, who was rumored to only be interested in Carmine because of the fortune he had made thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and committed work ethic. However, she found him meek and spineless. In contrast, Albert promised her a life of excitement and adventure together.
The two of them had conspired to get rid of Carmine: they gave him a fatal dose of sleeping pills, threw him in a lake, and faked a car accident to avoid raising suspicions and start a new life of crime together with fake identities.
Living The High Life
The police raided the home Albert, and Kate had been living in for the last year and found more evidence of their crimes.
They had been living the high life while Amanda and the children fought through their grief. The police were astounded by the blatant display of extravagance they found in the sea-facing mansion.
Rental records of the six-bedroom property revealed that it had been leased out for $ 1,200 a week for the last ten months.
“We found a walk-in closet inside with piles of ID documents, clothes, and shoes from various luxury labels, including Ferragamo, Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, bags of the same brands including Hermes, and uncountable Louis Vuitton bags all around the house,” the Chief of police said in a statement. But how had they afforded all of it?
Albert had been in and out of jail for various schemes and thefts since he was 20 years old. He hardly ever had a job – he cheated others out of their hard-earned money to earn a living. And he was extremely good at it.
He and his brother Carmine had never gotten along. In his teenage years, he perfected a simple con at a train station close to his childhood home. He’d gotten good at spotting a sucker from a mile away.
Abert’s cons started small. He would wait by the payphone until he found a mark. When someone stepped behind him, the performance began.
He’d pretend to be on a call and start crying, exclaiming that he couldn’t get to the hospital to see his dying mom because he didn’t have enough money for a train ticket. It worked almost every time. But Albert’s scams needed to become a lot more elaborate if he was to live in the luxury he wanted.
Over the years, Albert’s cons grew in size. He became involved in a company that had been set up under a deceased man’s name to pull off his biggest scam of all.
He had been going under the name Nigel Foster, and the police had been looking for him for months. Although the police had no idea he was also involved in the disappearance of his brother, he was wanted in another case.
Sports Betting Scam
The man ‘Nigel Foster’ was wanted to conning three Hong Kong men out of $5 million in Bitcoin in an elaborate sports betting scam.
Albert had promised the three investors guaranteed returns on their capital by being able to predict the outcome of sporting matches mathematically – however, the money disappeared into thin air, and no bets were ever placed by the fraudulent company.
After such a high-profile stunt, Albert knew the police were hot on his heels. He needed to assume a new identity – at least for long enough to throw the investigators off his trail.
His twin brother was the perfect solution, and he just needed to be in his house long enough to steal his identity documents and hack into his accounts. What he hadn’t expected, however, was that his brother’s wife would help him.
When Albert traveled to his brother’s house in Los Angeles, he had only one plan: to steal his brother’s identity.
Although they had never gotten along, Carmine was a generous man and welcomed his brother into his home with open arms, hoping to resolve the years-long rift between them. However, it wasn’t long before Albert saw a golden opportunity.
In the days that Albert spent in his brother’s home, he couldn’t help but notice the glances Kate was giving him when she thought her husband wasn’t looking.
Indeed, it seemed like the couple’s marriage had hit a rough patch – they were even sleeping in separate rooms. Albert had always had a talent for reading people. To him, it was clear that they had lost their spark and were staying together for the kids.
Seizing The Opportunity
It wasn’t difficult for Albert to seduce Kate. Then, another plan began to form. Albert seized the opportunity with both hands, convincing Kate to get rid of her husband and leave her boring life and kids behind.
For a year, they’d been living off Albert’s ill-gotten gains in absolute luxury while Amanda and the children mourned. But, thankfully, they had been caught in the end.
She Couldn’t Believe It
Amanda felt her whole world crumbling down when she heard this. How could her daughter be capable of something like that? She couldn’t help but feel that she had failed as a mother.
And the poor kids! They still didn’t know the truth. Would they ever be ready to learn the real story about what happened to their parents? But after mourning for a while, Amanda realized something.
In a way, the outcome could have been way worse. Had their parents stayed together in a loveless and abusive marriage, the kids would have suffered its effects. And God only knew in what ways their conniving and cunning mother could have influenced them.
Now, they could start anew. Amanda promised herself that she would do everything in her power to raise her grandchildren properly and serve as a righteous example.