Sometime on Sept. 3, Maureen Gearty, 56, of New York City started receiving emails and calls from old friends and colleagues asking about the details of her torrid affair with a man named Ronen Zakai, a former colleague at two since-shuttered small-cap boiler rooms.
Gearty told anyone who would listen she had never had any romantic involvement whatsoever with Zakai and that she was pretty certain she wouldn’t be hearing from him either since he was in a world of legal trouble for an alleged fraud involving some serious misuse of clients’ funds. In January, less than 15 miles away from Gearty’s home in the borough of Queens, Dune Lawrence, 38, a highly decorated Bloomberg News reporter, went online one morning to find her picture splashed across a Web site with the headline “Is Dune Lawrence Racist?”
The two women are very different: Gearty is a 30-year veteran office manager of Wall Street’s rough-and-tumble boiler rooms, and Lawrence is an award-winning investigative reporter. Both became quite upset. Gearty was paralyzed by anger and disgust, she said, at the lies that seemed to metastasize from story to story, while Lawrence was taken aback by the bitter personal attacks, even if she understood the articles would not be seen as serious professional criticism of her journalism, she told her friends.