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January 2007 Vol. 33, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Ladies, Avoid This Dive Instructor

a few others, too

from the January, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Male dive instructors are known to flirt with their female customers. It’s another story when they try to romance the women out of thousands of dollars.

That’s what happened to two women who became involved separately with the same dive instructor in Dominica. Both had recently separated from their husbands when they went diving with Aaron Carbon, a Dive Dominica instructor. They believe he targeted them as vulnerable women of a certain age who had a little money, and that he used the same wooing techniques on both of them, carried on relationships with them simultaneously – and took more than $20,000 of their money.

Ellie,* an Undercurrent subscriber, met Carbon when she took dive groups to Dominica and he served as their divemaster. They soon became romantically involved. In January 2006, Ellie said she was thinking of moving to Dominica. Carbon offered to help her build a house and suggested she just send him money to start. He said he already owned a piece of land, and when Ellie was able, she could buy it from him. “He has worked at Dive Dominica for 13 years, and is an excellent, professional instructor, so there was no reason not to trust him,” Ellie said.

Over five months, Ellie wired $17,000 into Carbon’s account. She asked if she should have her name on legal documents, but she says Carbon assured her that wasn’tnecessary. When she visited the property last summer, a road was indeed built on the property, but nothing had been started on the house. Carbon claimed it had cost $10,000 just to build the road.

The “other” woman

When Ellie returned to the U.S., she was contacted by Sheba, a Dominica woman who said she was the mother of Carbon’s children. Sheba told Ellie she was not the only American tourist Carbon was fleecing and gave her the e-mail of Dee,* who had met Carbon in January 2005. Ellie contacted Dee via e-mail to compare notes, and they found the course of their relationships with Carbon to be nearly identical.

Dee was booked for a Dive Dominica trip with her husband, but went alone after learning days before that he was having an affair. The crew was sympathetic, but Carbon took it further. He asked Dee out for beers after the dive, and told her about his future plans that revolved around his new property. He became more personal, showering Dee with compliments, and they became intimate on her last night.

When Dee returned in May 2005, Carbon introduced her to some of his relatives (the same ones that Ellie met) and showed her his property, which he asked her to buy. She declined but loaned him $3,500 when he beggedher for money to buy a truck. Dee required him to sign a note stating he would repay, but it wasn’t long before the payments became infrequent. Dee returned again in February 2006 and Carbon gave her cash that covered a little over half of what he owed — which may have come from the money Ellie had started wiring into his account. Carbon also proposed marriage, but a fed-up Dee broke it off, saying he’d have to find a richer tourist to marry. She learned later that Carbon had proposed to Ellie a month before.

Both said Carbon did not act at all like a brazen gigolo. “He came off very simple, sweet, and sincere,” said Dee. “He is definitely not the Don Juan stereotype, physically or in presentation.”

Hell hath no fury….

Ellie went to Dive Dominica’s owner, Derek Perryman, with their stories. She remembers Perryman saying there was nothing he could do, but that he also commented “there’s too much of this thing going on.” He gave Ellis the name of a Dominica lawyer.

“My company is a dive company, not a real estate company, and we were not involved with this situation,” Perryman told Undercurrent. “I knew she was socializing with this guy, and it put me in a funny situation, but they are adults and I can’t get involved in whatever social activities they take part in off the dive boat.”

Perryman asked Carbon about the matter but said he “brushed it off, like it was not a big deal.” Carbon still works for Dive Dominica and Perryman said he can’t fire him because Carbon may retaliate with a lawsuit. “Private relationships have nothing to do with your work, so even to try disciplinary action would put me in a bad legal situation.” But Ellie is working with the Dominica lawyer to reclaim her money from Carbon, and she still plans to take group trips down to Dive Dominica despite Carbon’s presence.

Both she and Dee advise other single female divers to be cordial and polite — but nothing else — to dive crews.

“I just came back from Bali where a dive guide on the boat was hitting on two single women, asking if one of them would marry him so he could get a job in the U.S. — and he was serious,” said Ellie. “This kind of situation happens everywhere, and more often than you think.”

* Names have been changed upon the women’s requests.

--Vanessa Richardson

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