$100 in rewards for the "Welches stolen truck" con man
The other day I blogged about being conned out of a few bucks by a sharp-talking guy who purported to be the victim of a truck theft. Something about needing cab fare so that he could get back to Welches. The post is here.
It turned out, I'd been had. This guy has been pulling this con around Portland -- particularly around transit stops -- for many years (two readers were victimized by him in separate incidents four years ago). Unbeknownst to me, Margie Boulé had written a couple of columns about the dude back in February 2006. Among other things, she pointed out that what he was doing then (and is still doing now) constitutes the crime of theft by deception. She urged people who are approached by the man to take his photo with their cell phone cameras and send it in. Somehow my dedication to reading Boulé columns lapsed during that critical juncture, and my ignorance cost me some hard cash the other day on the transit mall.
O.k., live and learn. But tonight, as I'm jogging home from Lloyd Athletic Club, what to my wondering eyes does appear but the con man himself, strolling south along NE Ninth between Weidler and Broadway. I couldn't believe it! I confronted the guy -- demanded my money back and called him a bunch of names that he richly deserves. I also told him that I was going to use the internet to put his sorry self out of business.
He looked at me with a stoned-out mug and told me he didn't have my money to give back to me.
Now, the temptation to take a swing at this guy's face was about as strong as I've ever felt. But I decided that I didn't need that aggravation, and besides, I wanted to finish my run. Energized by the jolt of adrenaline, what had begun as a tired workout became a livelier one as I made my way home. I cussed him out loudly as long as he was within earshot. He just crossed Weidler, heading south, no doubt ready to pull his act on some unsuspecting rube at a nearby Max stop. I'm sure he's laughing at me right now in some bar.
But I'm not through with this guy. I'm calling on all readers of this blog to help me carry through on my vow to bring him down. I'm offering a cash reward of $50 for an accurate identification of the con artist -- real name and address -- and another reward of $50 for just a photo of decent enough quality that an identification might at some point be made. I suspect there's already a photo of this creep in police files somewhere -- no doubt taken when he was booked for some sort of fraud. Maybe an internet sleuth could pick it up.
He looks like he's in his mid- to late 30s, around 6 feet tall. He's got a gut on him -- he eats well off the stolen money -- and so I'd put his weight at around 190 to 200. Not grossly obese, but not slight of build by any means. He's got a solid brown beard, closely cropped but running all the way down his neck. He wears a baseball cap. Tonight he had on a blue T-shirt that said "Sun" something or other -- maybe "Sun City." He's had a pained expression on his face the whole times I've seen him.
He should be easier to catch than apparently has proven to be the case. His spiel is just about the same every time. He's a flooring contractor from Welches (or Zigzag). His truck was just stolen, and his wallet was in it. The cops won't come out to help him because there was no bodily harm or accident. He has his truck keys to show you. He can get as far as Sandy on the bus, but to get from Sandy to Welches, he needs $25 for cab fare.
To make nailing the guy easier, it seems that he may frequent the same locations to pull his con. The very first commenter on the post the other day told of being swindled by this fine fellow at the corner of NE Ninth and Broadway. Where I saw him this evening was less than a block from there. He's worked the Portland State area pretty hard, at least for a while. Other commenters placed him at the Max station at 60th and Sandy; at the QFC at 55th and Burnside; and at NE Broadway and 23rd. In the Boulé columns, he was working SW Second and Stark on at least two occasions; NE Broadway and Lloyd Center were also mentioned there. When he got me earlier this week, he was doing his thing along SW Third near Pine.
Reports also came in to Boulé from folks who were conned at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, on Northeast Grand Avenue, near Laurelhurst Park, on NW 23rd, in Milwaukie, in Vancouver, in Lake Oswego, on NE Sandy, near the Safeway in downtown Portland, and at Southeast Milwaukie and Bybee. (If you want to read those columns and have a Multnomah County Library card, you should be able to do so by going here and figuring out a few more clicks.)
He's got little embellishments. With me, he started with "Are you from this area?" and "Do you know where Welches is?" and he ended with "I just moved up here from California." In the Boulé column, he started with "Do you know where NW 23rd is?" He's pretty dang convincing, but when confronted, he appears to be just a smart aleck with a drug or alcohol problem to go with his neuroses.
Nothing would please me more than to use this blog to remove this vermin from our streets. Somebody out there has got to know who this guy is. Make yourself a quick fifty or hundred -- legitimately. All information about you will be kept confidential.
And if anyone has got any additional description of this crook or his game, please let us have it in the comments.
UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: A reader has pledged to kick in another $20 toward the rewards. So it's now $60 for a photo and $60 for an accurate identification. Send your information here.
UPDATE, 7/22, 4:05 a.m.: We now have his photo.
UPDATE, 7/24, 7:17 p.m.: Several readers have supplied a name (they corroborate each other), but we do not yet have an address.