Marcus Arnold (easy version)

In 2000, Marcus Arnold was living with his family in Perris, a town in the western United States. Marcus was fifteen at that time. He was a serious student who spent a lot of time working on his homework. When he was studying, he often used the internet to look for answers to his questions.

From the time he was twelve years old, Marcus had wanted to be a lawyer. In June 2000, he happened to notice some questions about law on one of the websites he used. He thought he could answer these questions and he wanted to try, but to do this he had to be an “expert.” It was possible to become an “expert” on this website just by filling out a form, so Marcus did this.

When he filled out the form, Marcus lied about his age. He said he was twenty-five even though he was only fifteen. He lied because he felt that if people on the website knew he was only fifteen, they wouldn’t take his answers seriously.

As soon as he became an expert, Marcus started answering questions. His answers were short and written in clear English. They were easy to understand.

One question, for example, came from a woman whose son was in jail. She told Marcus that when they arrested her son the police had not told him that he could get a lawyer before he answered any questions. Marcus wrote back and told her that if the police had not told her son this, he should not be in jail.

Another woman was so pleased with Marcus’ answers that she gave him a lot of information about her case and asked him to come to court with her. Marcus wanted to go and asked his mother to drive him there, but she didn’t agree to do this. She was afraid of what would happen when the woman found out that Marcus was only fifteen.

Marcus did such a good job of answering questions on the website that, a month after he began, he was number ten out of the 150 experts answering questions about the law. Marcus was very happy about this and he decided he wanted to get to the top of the list.

In order to get higher on the list, he changed his “on-line” name to “Justin Anthony Wyrick, Jr.” and he also said, on the website, that even though he wasn’t a real lawyer, he had worked in court.

This worked well. In the next two weeks almost a thousand questions were sent to Marcus and he answered ninety-nine percent of them. By that time, Marcus had gone up to number three on the list of experts. People started to write to him offering to pay him to work for them. Marcus felt bad about that. He realized he had been dishonest and these people thought he was a real lawyer.

a serious student:
a hard-working student

someone who knows a lot about something

fill out:
put information in the blank spaces of a form; (‘fill out’ is a phrasal verb)

take his answers seriously:
believe that his answers were good; (‘take [something] seriously’) is a phrasal verb

in order to get he changed:
so he could get he changed; ‘in order...’ gives the purpose of some action

in the normal way

tell the truth:
say something that is true; the antonym is ‘lie’; ‘tell the truth’ is a phrasal verb