Exposing Fake Amish

Could you identify an illusion?

Recently, this came to my inbox. Read and tell me if you think it's real.

I was writing to you because I came across your information pages. My son and I left Holmes County several months ago following my husbands death. I did not want to be his widow fathers new wife and as such we have been
shunned. I have learned much in the past nine months about the Eglish ways and I think we are doing well. I have had some difficulties in figuring out how to get identification for my son and I, which I have learned is needed for almost everything. We have moved to Iowa and I now can drive an automobile which is required as we are far from any places to purchase food, however I can not obtain the required license to drive such. I have sent a request to vital statistics office in Holmes County to receive the letter that says my son and I have no birth certificate as your pages said was needed. I am not sure to go about my son and I having the same name as my marriage was approved by the bishop but there were no documents filed. I am guessing I will have to get identification in my fathers name then as opposed to my husbands, yet my son has his fathers name. Do you think I will be able to send a letter to the court once I receive the letter from the agency that there is no birth certificate? It is unlikely we will be able to return to Ohio in person in the near future. Thank you for any help you can offer. I was able to take some of my husbands savings and purchase us a home, yet without identification I am unable to file required papers to own the home. I am unable to get assistance I am told is available to my son for medical services and food without our identification. We have since run out of our savings and I fear that if I do not get identification we will be in a dire situation. Any information you can provide me with would be greatly valuable to us. I am sorry if I have spoken out of context, I am still learning all the formalities and ways of this different environment. It is very difficult for someone of my age, as most of the english seems to associate only those shunned as the youth of our community, not a mother in her 30's. Again thank you kindly. Lanna Yoder

Well, Lanna, I see red flags. Hesitation. Caution.

I won't give lessons to those attempting a former-Amish pretense. So, without revealing all I know, here are some of those flags: (tweet this)
  • I don't have "information pages."
  • Amish do not require a widow to marry her father-in-law (eww). It was Biblical Old Testament tradition that a widow could marry her brother-in-law.
  • You cannot purchase a home "without identification."
  • "Dire situation" isn't the wording of any former-Amish I know.
  • Other wording isn't typical of those who've left Amish.
I didn't reply. Thought she was fishing for . . . something. Never heard from her again. Would you have replied?

Do you think she wanted __________________? Fill in the blank

Last year, a slender, dark-haired, fidgety woman appeared at our church. She tearfully told a tragic, agonizing, and convincing story of abuse in her Amish family - locked in her bedroom as punishment for being raped! She left the Amish. She's shunned.

Our minister listened to her story. Several compassionate church members responded in love. Friendship. Phone calls.

Knowing how much time I've invested helping former Amish, our minister asked me to spend time with this woman. I did. Saw red flags. Her entire story was rife with holes like a sieve. I asked her several questions. Listened. Was kind. Yet her answers supported my suspicions.

I asked my former Amish friends about this woman and the name she was using. None of them had heard of her. The Amish culture is extremely relational - they all know each other, are related, or know the name!

My subsequent research revealed she had a criminal record. Was being sued. Never Amish. A ruse.

Before she pulled on more heartstrings, she began to back off. Why? I introduced her to real ex-Amish. The old saying is true, "It takes one to know one." And they spotted a fake.

Geesh! I'm irked. Amazed. That an individual would hide under a bonnet to get___________ from generous church people. Using the Amish.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

(C)Copyright, 2015. Brenda Nixon.


  1. I've stumbled across some fake ex-Amish as well. All I need to do is speak Pennsylvania Dutch to them and they have no clue what I'm saying. :) All the ex-Amish I have ever seen, myself included, are hesitant to ask for handouts, especially from strangers!

    It's amazing the lengths some people will go to, to try to get something. I don't understand it.


    1. Yes, I've heard stories of people (or pan handlers) dressing Amish to solicit . . . I don't know . . . attention or handouts but, I've not personally experienced it until these two frauds.
      You crack me up Mary when you say all you have to do is speak Deutsch. Yep, that outta confound & expose them :-)

  2. The Amish do a lot better of acting English, than the English are of acting Amish.

    1. In my experiences Katie, I believe you are right! Thanks for reading/commenting.

  3. If an ex-Amish wrote that letter, she must be brain-damaged. Much more likely, the person is a fraud who should have done much more reading about the Amish, to avoid embedding so many recognizable lies.

    It probably wouldn't matter if we indicated the tell-tale clues that the letter is fake. Any would-be fraudster would need to know much more to avoid detection.

    1. Right. Do your research if you're going to attempt a fraud - haha. And as Mary said above, the former-Amish, I know, are very hesitant to ask for anything. Even when my "sons" come here, they may be hungry - having worked all day without a break - but won't ask for food. It's not until I get out the plates and put food in front of them that they'll dig in.

  4. Wow! I truly did not know that this community is not immune to such things. It is such a travesty that there are so many opportunists and scammers are out there taking advantage of the goodheartedness of people. Thanks for sharing that, Brenda. Definitely learned something new.

  5. I have seen how ex-amish word things in their writings......this was definitely not written by someone who grew up with English as their second language.......

    1. Ah, you are aware & right Lori. It's hard to either disguise an accent or to fake one. . . for long.

  6. I think the first person who contacted you was probably wanting information on how to do things without official ID or documentation for some not very forthright or good reasons. I think maybe they wanted to know how to do this to learn to use a false name.

    1. Hey, now that's an unscrupulous idea I'd not thought of. Thanks for reading/commenting.

  7. I knew of a man that would sell bake goods dressed Amish. To start with the bake goods were Amish made, then he started making them himself to make all the money. But the ladies caught on when he started asking for their recipes and how to do certain things.