How do I get back a $10,000/£6000 loan that my brother refuses to pay me ?
July 19, 2011 6:57 AM   Subscribe

How do I go about getting a $10,000 loan back from my brother and should I?more details inside.

I have lent my brother a series of loans always with the expectation - and repeated promises that he would pay me back-all in all it adds up to over $10,000and he shows absolutely no intention of paying a penny towards them.
A bit of background(ok alot of background), my brother has a degree from Oxford University but refuses to get a job, living off state benefits and handouts and "loans" from friends and family.
He has had every opportunity in life and various friends have secured him jobs- he hasn't kept any of them-he seems to have real impulse control problems and has consistently pointed out to his bosses how stupid they are- this doesn't tend to go down well. He has had 11 flat shares and has been thrown out of all of them-this is always the fault of the other people-never him.
He is my only brother/sibling and in some ways, although I'm actually 18 months older than him-I felt that I was born as a kind of donor child for him- my parents, especially my mother, doted on him and he was spoiled rotten and allowed to get away with murder, whenever my brother wanted to do something I was to go and do it with him-my wishes or plans took a back seat to whatever he wanted to do.
Our problems really started a long time ago, just after we both left university, my parents asked me for my brother's address so that they could send him a Xmas card-my brother was refusing to contact them-I gave it and received an awful, extremely abusive call from my brother calling me a f***ing B***ch and a an effing whore and how dare I do such a thing-he then cut me out of his life completely for three years as a punishment.
He rocked up three years later- no real apology and wanted to be in contact again- ok he's my only brother..I welcomed him, he was due to come over and see me and my new fiancé and he missed his train and ended up arriving 24 hours late and screwing up plans, he also arrived and said"Sis, is it ok to invite someone over?" I said "No, not really" he replied "Oh she arrives here in about half an hour"-he'd met a random girl down in a bar and invited her over to stay with us in Paris and hadn't bothered to ask me.So she came to stay.
I did start seeing more of him and stayed with him a couple of times-I kept noticing that I was missing money from my purse-£50 here, £30 there and at first I thought that I had been spending it or I'd lost it-very unusual for me,until I realized that it was every time I stayed and that he was going through my purse and stealing from me-I let it go without comment.
This was also when my (now)husband and I were going away on Xmas holiday and I asked if he would like to borrow our flat in Paris while we were away, he said Oh, he didn't think he'd come and if he did he might bring a girlfriend-we arrived back from a 16 hour flight to find about 15 people in the house having had a week long party- the place was a complete tip-they'd drunk through 2 crates of our champagne- there were naked strangers in our bed-he just skipped off, leaving me to deal with everything.
This was also when he was told by his friend that he could no longer live with him, he was given ample warning - he just seems to have nothing about it- literally making himself homeless- he called me up at 0300 am one day begging for money for a deposit and telling me he was living on the streets-he asked for a loan -that he would pay back - he was actually working at the time- he asked for £1000 and then changed that to £3000, he just needed money in the bank for them to check(?!) I would get the extra £2000 back within a week- I vouched for him and my husband wrote a cheque, he disappeared without contact for 2 years, without paying back a penny.
He returned 2 years later, no apology and kept in contact-just until he told me that he had been offered his dream job, the only thing he'd ever wanted to do-showed me a rather dodgy email as "proof" and begged me to just loan him the airfare-he'd pay me straight back -I loaned him £2000 more(I know, I can't believe it either)he then disappeared - not to this dream job, but somewhere- for 3 years with no contact -I was desperately worried, I called or emailed every week with no reply and finally told him I would report him to the Bureau of Missing Persons if he didn't get in contact - he did, no apologies of course and we were back in touch.I then received a series of harassing phone calls from the person my brother had rented a room from, he had disappeared,owing rent and leaving the place full of his stuff and a complete tip- this guy wanted me to fly over, sort out all of my brothers stuff,arrange to put it in storage and get the money back from my brother later(Ha!Ha!) When I told him I couldn't be responsible for my brother's concerns, I got a very aggressive phone call from him, telling me that my brother had told him all about his family and how they had never been there for him and that if we had just treated him better that he wouldn't have turned out like this. I realized my bro had been telling alot of people this sob story!When I confronted him, he said
After he got chucked out of that house -he met a random woman down the pub and moved in with her two weeks later, he now lives with (and off) her, he's horrible about her-he's made it very clear he would leave her in a heartbeat if any other opportunity came up.
Things came to a head a couple of months ago- he called me up and demanded another £3000 "loan" and was extremely pissed off that I wouldn't give it to him-and so basically cut me out of his life again.
This is just the tip of the iceberg,there is so much other shit- my brother has consistently shown up for meeting with me an hour late, asked for "a loan " of £50m-£100 every time we've met, including our grandmother's funeral and my mother's diagnosis with lung cancer.He will not accept ANY criticism at all, no matter how mild and will cut you off in a second, he has continually threatened self harm or to disappear and "you won't know if I'm alive or dead", if we challenge him on anything.
My parents throughout this time have indulged his every whim, he has cut them off completely but they have continued to lavish money on him- we do not come from a wealthy family, they have already put him through Oxford but have given him thousands and thousands of pounds,paid for his driving lessons,offered to pay for any further eduction that he wants, offered to put down a deposit on a house for him and just as we had all agreed NOT to give him any more money- they paid off all of his student loans -none of this has ever been offered to me! My brother's reaction to my parents paying off his loans-?"F***king b***rds, how dare they patronize me like that " -he declined not to take the money though.My parents have continually pointed out how much less intelligent I am than my brother and when challenged replied "We don't understand why you are upset, it's true- you are so much less brilliant than your brother,that's why we're so upset about his lack of achievement, we never expected anything from you"
I'm not special , my brother owes thousands of pounds to his friends as well - which he's made no effort to pay off , although he seems to be able to smoke 2-3 oacks of cigarettes a day and get drunk every night.
I'm not stupid, my brother scores off the charts for sociopathy, glib, charming,manipulative,absolutely no empathy,no remorse, no responsibility-it is always someone else's fault.I've had enough-I really can't see me having a relationship with my brother- which is honestly heart -breaking for me,but I can't deal with this an longer " Don't feed the hand that bites you!"
The thing is my brother isn't a kid- he's 40 this year and he seems to have screwed up his entire life , his credit rating and all his relationships with people and it makes me so sad
So my question is three pronged:
1 How do you deal with someone in your family that is a psychopath?
2 How do I get my money back-he's in the UK and I would be so grateful if someone could give some pointers-it's £6000 almost $10000,if I can't salvage anything else, I want my money back.I'm prepared to go to courtl.
3 How do I stop feeling SO stupid about letting this happen?Just writing this down has made me realize what abuse I have put up with- I cannot tell you how stupid I feel.
posted by hitchcockblonde to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. you don't
2. You don't
3. You don't.

You have been an unfortunate enabler. Just consider it history and don't even attempt to recover it or give any more.
posted by Gungho at 7:06 AM on July 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

Loans to family and friends are nearly always gifts. He's never going to pay you back.

The court (unless the UK is very strange) is not going to help you get the money back even if you have tons of documentation that he signed affirming that he would pay you back. And even if you happened to win your court case against him, it doesn't sound like there would be any sort of enforcement or likelihood that he'd pay you anyway.

Moving on from that:
1. Stop lending money to him
2. Step letting him stay at your house
3. Decide what kind of relationship you want to have with him beyond these things and stop getting upset when he screws up
4. You cannot control how your parents treat your brother, but it might be easier on all of you if you all decide to let him go together
posted by k8t at 7:07 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. You don't.
2. You don't.
3. You shouldn't feel stupid. He's your brother. Call the money the price you paid for learning a good lesson in how not to be manipulated any more and write it off. Don't talk to him again.
posted by gaspode at 7:07 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

How do you deal with someone in your family that is a psychopath?

I would cut off contact with this person completely.

How do I get my money back?

You won't. It is gone for good and you should write it off. I'm sorry.

How do I stop feeling SO stupid about letting this happen?

You are human and you tried your best to help your brother. You gave him many chances to do the right thing and he always chose to let you down. You weren't stupid at all; you were kind and generous and a very good sister. Remember that and know that there are just some people who can't be helped. It really sounds like he operates under a completely different value system than you do and that most likely won't change. I admire how hard you tried and how long you stood by him. But its probably time to stop and let him and this whole mess just .. go.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2011 [11 favorites]

Do you have any documentation on these loans? Promissory note, etc?

Does your brother have $10,000?

A no to either question makes litigation look pretty hopeless.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2011

1. You don't. He's cut you out of his life? Oh what a terrible shame that is. Seriously, what positive experiences is he bringing to your life?
2. Too much for small claims court (iirc) and it doesn't sound like you have much paperwork proving the debt. Given his propensity for just taking off and the fact that he doesn't actually have any money to give you back makes legal action probably not worth your time. You'd have more luck asking your parents to pay you back the money he owes you.
3. Learn and grow. Don't let him stay at your place, don't lend him money and if you ever have to be near him (family Christmas perhaps?), keep your valuables with you at all time. Put the past behind you and don't let it happen again.
posted by missmagenta at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2011

Sorry to hear about all this. It sounds unbelievably exhausting.

You could certainly try to sue him. In the U.S. this amount might qualify for small claims court and you wouldn't necessarily need a lawyer, not sure what the U.K. situation is. However, even if you could win (and that's a big if), if he doesn't have the money, he doesn't have the money. And he sounds pretty broke. So a judgment against him isn't going to do you much good, anyway.

You write about how your brother has cut you out of his life when you don't do what he wants. It's probably time to cut him out of yours until he gets the help he needs. Your parents sound like they're enabling his behavior emotionally and guilting you into doing so financially. No good can come of this.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2011

1. You cut them out of your life.

2. I don't know what the laws are like in the UK. Here in the States if you don't have some kind of proof that you loaned him the money, something like a signed paper, then it comes down to "he said, she said" and you'll never get a court to award you the money. I'm afraid you'll have to look at this as a very expensive lesson.

3. Don't feel stupid. Get therapy if you need it. Everybody has their own demons and yours seems to share DNA. Just be grateful you can write him out of your life.

Bottom line is: Be grateful for those years without contact. Make no effort to contact him in the future. Tell your parents that you will no longer be a part of conversations where the topic involves your brother. If he contacts you tell him you never want to hear from him again.

Don't fight with him. Don't try to convince him he's wrong. Don't waste any more time, money, brainpower, or emotions on this.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:15 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

1 How do you deal with someone in your family that is a psychopath?

The same way you deal with a family member who is a junky -- you set hard boundaries and you maintain them. You have to understand, and I mean really understand, his welfare is not your concern, especially when it interferes with your own. People will say "blood is thicker than water," but, in these cases, you blood is a chain that has you tied to a boulder that is dragging you down financially and (more importantly) emotionally.

Only interact with your brother on your terms. Be prepared for that to mean no interaction at all. If he begins belittling you or picking fights with you, cut him off or leave. To facilitate this, make sure that you never meet any place you can't leave when you want (ie, he never comes to your house or workplace). Never leave him alone with anything you don't want stolen.

2 How do I get my money back-he's in the UK and I would be so grateful if someone could give some pointers-it's £6000 almost $10000,if I can't salvage anything else, I want my money back.I'm prepared to go to courtl.

Unless you have some sort of written evidence of your loans, I expect this is impossible. However, I am no sort of lawyer, much less a UK lawyer, and you would have to talk to someone with legal specialty to be sure.

3 How do I stop feeling SO stupid about letting this happen?Just writing this down has made me realize what abuse I have put up with- I cannot tell you how stupid I feel.
posted by hitchcockblonde to human relations [add to favorites] 1 user marked this as a favorite [!]

You stop feeling stupid by stopping feeling helpless. Realize that there are steps you can take (and I realize that these may be hard, because it sounds like you will be struggling with the rest of your immediate family as well). Take those steps. Lead your life separately from this horrible time, emotion, and cash void. Spend your energy on things that reward you rather than hurt you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:15 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

You won't get this $10,000 back, but you've got another (your salary)*(your pre-retirement lifespan)=$1,500,000 that you can avoid giving him.

Cut him off. Does that mean cutting him out of your life entirely? Maybe. It means never giving him anything other than a basic christmas gift, never letting him into your house, never leaving him alone with your posessions. But if he says he doesn't want to hear from you, that's clearly his loss - don't buy his attention. Cut him off.
posted by aimedwander at 7:16 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. Make it abundantly clear that's how you feel, that he is sick, and continue to push him towards getting professional help. If he is truly a psychopath and lacks empathy, he can at least learn the rules somehow...but he's going to have to fall on his own to get that kind of help (or end up in jail).

2. Talk to a lawyer, just to see what your options might be. There's a lot that can be discussed with your lawyer that would probably be too much to cover here on mefi.

3. Time will heal all wounds. But starting now you need to change how you interact with and view your brother. He is a sick man in need of help. I wouldn't go as far as disowning him, but you have to be firm on your stance. You also have to get the rest of your family on your side on this issue starting now. Yes you've felt dumb for what you've done...but start feeling justified and wise in what you do from here on...
posted by samsara at 7:17 AM on July 19, 2011

Have you simply asked him, flat-out, for the money you loaned him?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2011

Let it go. And don't loan him money again. Simple as that.
posted by tomswift at 7:24 AM on July 19, 2011

How do I get my money back-he's in the UK and I would be so grateful if someone could give some pointers-it's £6000 almost $10000,if I can't salvage anything else, I want my money back.I'm prepared to go to courtl.

You will not be able to get this money back. I am sorry.

How do I stop feeling SO stupid about letting this happen?Just writing this down has made me realize what abuse I have put up with- I cannot tell you how stupid I feel.

Most people want a relationship with their siblings and will try to do a lot of things in order to have one. You tried, and it did not work out, but not because you did anything wrong. You do not need to regret having been generous and trying with your family. (I also do not think you ened to regret quitting all this generosity and effort.)

How do you deal with someone in your family that is a psychopath?

Speak to a therapist? Do not allow him in your home -- if there is any chance at all he has keys, get a new lock. Do not leave anything valuable around near him. Do not give him money. Do not engage.
posted by jeather at 7:25 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm prepared to go to court

He's never going to have £6000 to pay you. As others have said, even if a court gave you some kind of settlement, you're just one person in a long line of people he owes money to. I'm not a huge expert on the UK legal system, but if someone doesn't have a job and is chronically broke, it's pretty much a universal fact that any money you loan them is effectively gone forever. Use the lost £6000 as a reminder to never give him another pound no matter what he says.

How do I stop feeling SO stupid about letting this happen?Just writing this down has made me realize what abuse I have put up with- I cannot tell you how stupid I feel.

It sounds like your brother has been a full time scammer since he was a child. You've basically been the victim of a con artist who just happens to also be your brother. Most people don't lie and steal constantly, so most of us give people the benefit of the doubt and help out people who seem like they need help. Your brother is part of the small minority of people who abuse the kindness of others for their own benefit. So now that you've been burned by him (multiple times) you have to treat him like anyone else you wouldn't trust alone with your purse. And do your best to ignore the fact that your parents still think he's wonderful, they have been duped even worse than you, and they just don't want to admit to themselves that their son is a bad person.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know this wasn't one of your questions, but I am so sorry your parents have treated you so badly as well. You do not deserve their insults and hideous behavior. Do not let them influence you in relation to your brother...they do not deserve the respect they are unwilling to give to you.
posted by murrey at 7:28 AM on July 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

This immediately made me think of A Bronx Tale. From TV Tropes' "Never Lend To A Friend" page:

Subverted in A Bronx Tale. Calogero is owed twenty dollars by a casual acquaintance, which escalates into such a tense issue that the kid ends up just running every time he sees "C" coming. C is venting about this one day to his mentor Sonny, who asks C if he even particularly liked the guy to begin with. C replies that he never really did, and Sonny points out that he's free to just forget about it if he wants — the other kid will continue avoiding C in order to avoid repaying the debt. "He's out of your life for twenty dollars."

Now, $10K is a lot more than $20, but you don't ever have to deal with him again. Being your brother doesn't give him a free pass.
posted by cardioid at 7:41 AM on July 19, 2011

One more have expressed shame and embarrassment (read: feeling stupid) about having helped your brother. But that shame and embarrassment does not belong to you. It is your brother who should feel embarrassed and shameful, not you. Even though I doubt he feels those things does not give you any ownership over his shameful and embarrassing behaviors.

You behaved in a kind and generous way to a family member you loved. Just because your brother took advantage of and abused your kindness and generosity is not a reflection on you in the slightest. Please don't beat yourself up.
posted by murrey at 7:47 AM on July 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Thank you for all your replies and thank you especially to murrey and Kangaroo, you never know what is going to make someone's day!
posted by hitchcockblonde at 8:25 AM on July 19, 2011

You don't have a brother. You have an extra asshole. Do what you'd do with an extra body part - excise it.
posted by notsnot at 8:43 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any attempt to get the money back from your brother will cause you more pain. I'm sorry but he'll never be the brother you want, or deserve, you've gone above and beyond for him but at some point relationships just dont work.

Your parents probably feel really ashamed too, and although it doesn't excuse the way they treat you, I would suppose that they feel the if they hype your brother as brilliant but troubled they avoid the truth of him being a spoiled, manipulative psycho. This means that it probably has much less to do with you than their shame in raising and enabling such a person.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:18 AM on July 19, 2011

How does your husband feel about all this? Does he want to pursue the money? Is he happy that your brother has cut off contact?

It's his money, apartment, and sanity too, and I think these are decisions that require his input.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:54 AM on July 19, 2011

If you don't need the money, let it go. 'There is no loans between relatives-only gifts'
You learned this the hard way-as have many many many people before you, and many more still will get their chance to learn.

Stop enabling him, cut off contact PERIOD.

Good luck to you
posted by Frosted Cactus at 10:50 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

End all financial relations with your brother. If it makes you feel better, there are many family members that take advantage of the close ties they have with their family and friends, with no intention of repaying. In their minds, they've convinced themselves that it's ok, in fact, that's what they deserve/at least you can do for them, blah blah. Cut ties with him, as much as you can. Let the money go, and concentrate your effort on making that money else where. Forgive your brother, but don't forget, for your sake.

It hurts more cause he's your brother, but your brother is an imperfect being...if the other person does not treat you with same care that you put in to the relationship, think of it as a fee for life lesson and move on. Don't lend people money, period. If they really need it and you can afford it, then think of it as a gift. If you can't, then be confident enough to say no, no matter what.
posted by icollectpurses at 10:57 AM on July 19, 2011

I would also say that you should only meet with him in public places, and change your entry for him in your phone to "ASSHOLE BROTHER" or "IGNORE". Then, you'll actually have your purse with you and monitored, and will maybe not take any more of those OMG-Need-help! phone calls.

Your brother has decided to do this to himself. I'm sorry it went this long and that he was such an asshole growing up, but dwelling on the past with him and your parents will only make you feel helpless every time.

The best weapon in your arsenal is "No", and if they keep pushing for you to do X (whether that's giving your parents his contact info or giving your brother money), tell them you won't discuss it any more and that you'll talk to them another time. Then hang up.

Good luck in setting healthy boundaries - there are a lot of resources for it listed in past AskMe questions if you search.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:51 AM on July 19, 2011

If you think about it, money is not really the question here. How do you deal with a person like this?

First of all, as others said, the $10,000? I think it is best to forget about this.
I mean to be honest, even if you find a way to get the money back, in the long run he might hurt you in some other way. So even if there is a way, I would just stay away.

Another issue that you need to be careful is that, just cutting him out might not be sufficient. If there any other "enablers" in the family, he is likely to knock on their doors and have a new story about how you treated him in his darkest hour and trust me you will be the evil queen and he will be the helpless victim in that story. So he could seriously damage your relationship with the other family members.

The solution for this? I'm not %100 sure. The way I see it, it might be good to be on the offense. You can talk with these "enablers" before him, and tell them a story of your own. I'm not saying lie, but telling them just the truth might not be sufficient, you might need to put emphasis on some of the events, and how he put you in a difficult situation and how he actually made you the victim.

Also, don't feel stupid, he is your brother after all. Buy you should feel free to feel stupid if you repeat your actions after realizing your situation and reading all these responses.

And as a final note, and this is an awful thing to say but I'm glad your parents aren't my parents.
posted by caelumluna at 5:31 PM on July 19, 2011

What a loved one's addiction or sociopathy means is that you cannot reach that person and all your attempts to interact will meet only the impenetrable wall of his illness. You cannot help him, you cannot fix him, you cannot save him and, just as surely, you will not get your money back.

This is very hard to do but I believe you must let him go. Your brother has made goodbye the only thing that remains to be said between you. It is just a matter of time. Forgive him, let him go and say goodbye.

You have a husband who sounds like a good man and a life that you can nurture and invest yourself in. Do that. You are a good and generous person and I hope you will be happy.
posted by Anitanola at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to look at establishing a different relationship with your parents, too. Their ongoing favoritism and approval of this sociopath over you, with your obviously patient and generous heart, can't be doing your self-esteem any favors.

On both counts, you deserve much better.
posted by Kibby at 6:07 PM on July 19, 2011

I have had a similar situation lending money to a friend (threats of being kicked out of her home, court orders, etc). I stressed about it for years (round and round: how can I get this money? what a bitch! if only I had it back! how can I get it?) and let it eat away at me. What helped (and this is easy to say, but took willpower to do) was accepting that I'd never get it back. When I could do that, I literally felt lighter and free. It was liberating.

I think of it as a lesson, it's a shame it cost so much to learn, but I have learned from it about letting go from toxic people and toxic burdens as well as not bloody well lending money out.

I'm also sorry that your brother has not rewarded your (entirely natural) help and kindness, and that your parents have been so uncaring towards you. You are not a bad or foolish person and you don't deserve their insults or hostility.

Good luck moving forward.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 11:38 PM on July 19, 2011

When he stole money from your purse, I think he crossed a line.

Not repaying debts and inviting people over unasked are rude and inconsiderate, but are unfortunately common. Pilfering cash is less common and in my mind it's on another level. Any reasonable person would agree after that incident, you can and should cut him off.

You have gone further and given more to him than many would have. You've done nothing wrong and no-one can fault you on what you've done, or a decision to cut him off at this point.

Good luck.
posted by dave99 at 12:20 AM on July 20, 2011

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