Mismatch

Slammed with hefty court-ordered judgments in the Northeast, matchmaker Helena Amram has found no peace in South Florida either

Amram claims the raid came primarily at the prodding of Randie Kaiser, a former client with whom she had an argument. Kaiser, who lives in Miami-Dade County, filed suit in Palm Beach County on March 15, less than a month after the raid. In her complaint, Kaiser claims that she had been induced to sign a $20,000 agreement in the summer of 2001 after being shown a potential match, a man who was no longer available after Kaiser had completed initial testing. Amram misrepresented the men she actually did introduce to Kaiser, the complaint alleges. For example, Amram claimed that one man's wife had recently died and he was eager to marry again. "In fact, the man's wife had died years earlier after she had cheated on the man and got pregnant with another man's baby," the complaint states. On another occasion, Amram told one of Kaiser's prospective dates that she weighed only 120 pounds, which was not true. Another man had difficulty maintaining an erection, despite the fact that he was put through a physical exam that should have identified the problem. Kaiser was not informed that one date wore a hairpiece.

When Kaiser protested the mismatches, Amram refused to work with her, the complaint alleges. Nor would she return the $20,000.

Amram claims that Kaiser came on too strong with one of her dates, a comment that soured the relationship between Kaiser and the matchmaker. "She tried to sleep with a guy, and he wouldn't sleep with her on the first night," Amram says. "I told her it's very, very wrong. Men don't want a woman who is crazy. Then there was a fight between them. She promised she would destroy me, and she did." She pauses. "You will see that the police have nothing."

David Hollenbach
David Hollenbach

"We'll respond to any statements Helena makes while she's under oath in a court of law," says J. Ronald Denman, Kaiser's attorney. His client isn't willing to discuss the case with the media, he says, and has instructed him not to elaborate on the suit. He claims, however, that Kaiser did not go to the police about Amram; the police approached Kaiser.

Some of Amram's clients are surprisingly sanguine about the police raid and further allegations of fraud. Matthew, who was already deeply involved with someone by the time of the raid, says, "During the negative media coverage, the first thing I thought was that if you lined up ten people and one person was unhappy, I'd like to hear from the other nine. I think people might be envious or some people just aren't matchable. That might be cold-hearted, but some people are looking for a needle in a haystack, a Prince Charming or Snow White."

Asked about the media coverage, Tracy laughs. "I've seen it all," she says, dismissing much of it as "someone who was disgruntled, someone who just had this naive idea about what Helena could do for them. Perhaps it was someone who was desperate. I go back to where the client's head is: If it's my last $20,000, I'd be angry as hell. But it wasn't my last $20,000, thank you."

Amram called Tracy soon after news of the raid broke. "She was very upset and asked me to write a letter expressing my level of satisfaction," Tracy recalls. Amram says she called as many active clients as she could.

As for prospective clients, Amram shied away for a while from accepting any, informing prospects that she's under investigation. But in mid-April, the day Maggie showed up to look at her portfolio of matches, that changed. "For two months, I couldn't do anything," Amram laments. "People come here, and I say, no, I don't want. Today is the first time. A lady came in, and I told her the story of the police, and she said, 'I don't care. I know who you are.' She just signed up with me." Amram pulls out the woman's handwritten check for $10,000. Another $10,000 is yet to come.

"I have nothing to hide," she declares. "I live for this business. You take this away from me, you take my life away from me."

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