To all my NY-based friends posting insufferable inspiring pictures of recently acquired diamond rings, I have a warning for you. You better make that marriage work, or the ring is going right back in your boyfriend’s pocket. (You hear that, Lala? Hold that $150k engagement ring CLOSE.) At least, that was the case for New York woman Jennifer Rutten, who was court ordered to return her $40,000 engagement ring to ex-fiancé Rodney Ripley last week. The couple split back in 2011, after being engaged for a little under a year. But due to some extremely
brilliant shady evasion tactics by Rutten, it took Ripley nearly five years in court to get this result. (I wouldn’t have spent five years in court with my ex for anything less than a million, but to each their own.) So, how did this get so drawn out? Let’s dig in.
From all accounts, it sounds like this couple was OD dramatic with everything they did. They fell in love while being halfway across the country from each other (Ripley in Wisconsin, Rutten in New York), but decided to get engaged anyway. What could go wrong, right? Rutten balled out on a 3-carat cushion-cut ring, and staged a proposal on the Brooklyn Bridge, a place that’s probably now ruined for both of them and makes inter-borough travel very difficult. For unknown reasons, they broke up less than a year later. Ripley asked Rutten to return the ring; Rutten’s response can essentially be summed up like this:
Rutten came up with a number of excuses over the years for why she wasn’t returning the ring. First, she claimed that she was “dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy” and didn’t have time for her former fiancé’s “harassment.” This could be very sad and true, but given the extent of Sandy’s damage is probably just a ridiculous lie, unless Rutten was living out on Long Island or in Jersey. But whatever, if given the option, I would definitely use a natural disaster as an excuse to hold on to jewelry too.
Rutten then tried the argument that the ring wasn’t worth enough to warrant legal action. But Ripley had taken out a $40,000 insurance policy, so she was kind of out of luck. Finally, she claimed in court that “ became more typically abusive, emotionally abusive” as the relationship went on. While I always want to take claims of abuse seriously, whether or not Riply was abusive has no bearing on her legal right to keep the ring. Finally, Rutten stated plainly that she was “angry” and “didn’t want to return it.” There it is. Don’t get me wrong, feeling angry and vindictive is v understandable, but most of us would just bury those feelings in ice cream instead of legal fees for a case you will almost definitely lose.
Ultimately, the judge ruled that she has 45 days to either return the ring or pay her ex the equivalent. If you learn anything from this, it should be following. According to NY state law, engagement rings are conditional gifts, and “if no marriage occurs, they must be returned.” So if you’re out there dating with the sole intent of putting a year’s salary on your finger, just make sure you actually get to the “I do.”
Images: Giphy (2); Jasmine Wallace Carter / Pexels
Even though being at work today feels like coming in on a Saturday, I actually have some good news. We have a new addition to the summer of scamming: Yvonne Bannigan. Accused of stealing over $50,000, the 25-year-old former Vogue staffer has confirmed what we all suspected. Low-level employees at fashion magazines are America’s next criminal class not to be trusted. (Remember that Anna Delvey also started out at Purple.) Honestly, if The Devil Wears Prada was any indication, the world of fashion is a high-stress environment. I’m not surprised a few people snapped. And by snapped, I of course mean started rampantly using other people’s money as their own. Let’s dig in to this story.
Yvonne Bannigan, 25, is the former assistant of Vogue creative director and—*Tyra voice*—living legend Grace Coddington. While snagging that job is impressive, Bannigan wasn’t really on anyone’s radar until her arrest in April. And she wasn’t on my radar until I discovered her in a scammer withdrawal-induced Google search. Anyway, Yvonne Bannigan was charged with stealing over $50,000 from Coddington, with further allegations that she stole Coddington’s property and sold it on the online consignment store TheRealReal. You know, the site we told you to go on to get designer clothes for cheap. (A recommendation I stand by if the site is selling Coddington-level goods, FYI.) These sales allegedly netted a $9,000 commission for Bannigan. The other allegedly stolen $50K is just in charges to Coddington’s credit card.
Sadly, unlike with Anna Delvey, no one seems to know how Yvonne Bannigan allegedly spent that $50K. We already know we have a second fashion-mag scammer, but did they both use the money for shopping sprees and hotel suites? Did they go to the same parties and nod at each other in scammer-to-scammer recognition? Do they both wear Supreme??? These are the important questions, people.
Also sadly, Bannigan has not commented (on Instagram or otherwise) on the charges. While Anna Delvey is still spouting an alarming amount of nonsense, Bannigan seems uninterested in preserving any kind of reputation. Her lawyer has commented that this is all a “misunderstanding,” which TBH was my line every time my parents were unhappy with my credit card charges too. How does one “misunderstand” $50,000?? That’s what I want to know.
So, why do we keep getting scammers like Delvey and Bannigan? For one, I am convinced fashion magazines are breeding grounds for evil, as discussed. But there’s also the fact that any young girl thrown into a highly moneyed, fashionable world like Vogue will feel pressure to keep up. And in a country where student loans can haunt you into old age, and the president’s economic world views can be summed up as “I’ve never paid taxes and don’t intend to start,” things like “working hard” and “honest money” don’t really seem like viable ways to get ahead. If you’re still not getting the zeitgeist here, go watch The Bling Ring and maybe Ingrid Goes West a few more times. It’ll start to click, I promise. In the meantime, I’ll be here in my Not Not A Grifter tee hunting for leftover Coddington pieces on TheRealReal. Don’t @ me, I didn’t steal them!
Images: Giphy (3)