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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 19, 2007 11:02 PM. The previous post in this blog was Bully for you, chilly for me. The next post in this blog is Bad sign. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

$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.

Comments (20)

Jack I hope you don't mind but I thought a map might help.

Did he claim that you could obtain a tax deduction? If not, that settles that.

Otherwise see this for refining an effective message to induce folks to part with their money.

If Gard & Gerber or Pac/West Communications can exist as an entity, or video-poker "for-entertainment-only" can exist ("to Do Good Things?"), then Mr. Brother Got A Dime can non-violently do his thing -- but not free from the risk of being shamed.

How about this refinement: "I need 50 bucks for Pop A Lock so that I can get my infant child out of the car that is burning in the afternoon sun."

This way only the most gullible would fall for it. It would make one wonder how the mark ever came into possession of the money in the first place.

Jack, I got swindled out of $1200.00 by ****** here in The Dalles and you make a big deal about losing a few bucks to a two-bit con artist whose activities have been pretty well documented. How about a little compassion for those who have suffered some real losses?
First you go on the warpath about newsracks you feel are illegal and then you blow a gasket about being taken for a few bucks by small-time con artist.
I think that the Bible describes your attitude perfectly. Matthew 23:24..."You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel"

If you add up what this guy has taken from people in Portland over the last four years, I'm sure it comes to way more than $1200.

I brought up the idea of shutting down panhandlers by using the theft by deception laws years ago to one of our city councilers and got a not interest blank stare.

They don't really care - where are the campaign donations?

thanks
JK

I would never waste my breath on this with anyone on the City Council, other than possibly the Mayor. But we may be able to get someone in the Police Bureau or one of the downtown business bigwigs interested. Just running his photo prominently on this blog for a while would be fun.

To what effect? Do you really think "exposing" him will put him out of business? It was YOU who broke the basic rule: always say "no" to requests for cash on the street.

"Theft by deception" Sounds like good old American capitalism to me.

Your best avenue for success, Jack, might be to interest one of the local news stations in your story. You know "local blogger tracks down con-man" kind of thing, complete with hidden camera, etc. I doubt that guy will stop because some random blogger (no offense) talks about him, but if KATU or KPTV run his face on the nightly newscast, that might convince him to move his gig out of town.

"Theft by deception", sounds like the Portland city council. Jack, when Sam the scam is mayor this guy could take Sam place on the council.In today's jargon it would be a good fit.

You should have asked for your money back when he said he "Just moved here from California", unless of course the money was for bus fare to go back to Cali.

I can't believe how brazen this guy is after all the press that has been circulating around town about him for a few years now. He takes advantage of people and their noble impulse to help a stranger in need. I used to try to help most strangers...now it takes a pretty hard case...damsels in distress with dead car batteries, etc. Guys like this contribute to the hardening of our hearts...it's sad. It would be great if someone could get his mug out there. Someday he might run across someone who isn't as cool headed as Jack and get a major league smack down.

Oh yeah...I'll add another $20 to the reward fund if anyone meets the terms of either of Jack's requirements in bringing this guy down.

In another town, confronted by another POed victim, I doubt this guy would have been standing after the confrontation. In Portland guys get away with this for years. On the east side of the state, the more old school, "stand and fight" side of the state. This guy would never stick around do to fear for his health. Of course it is hard to con a tumbleweed.

Good for you Jack. The acceptance of victimhood even on a small matter leads to the complacency and eventually the acceptance of victimhood on a larger scale. Don't let it happen.

I love the idea of getting the news to do an undercover sort of sting. Sounds like a story they'd pick up.

The way I remember when this guy got my $, he acted very embarrassed, said he's never asked anyone for money, that he will definitely repay the money and send it to me first thing. For all you posters who give a simple "just don't give any money on the street"...I 'never' do! Seriously, he is THAT good...in my wallet that day I had a 10 and a 50...yup, I gave him the 50.
ouch.

Well Jack he wasn't laughing at you in a bar last night, but he was peddling his sob story just outside of one.
Last night around 11:15 some friends and I were headed out of "Venue" which is just a few blocks north of Broadway on MLK when a guy walks up to us asking us if we were from around here, etc, etc. Well as soon as he said "Welches" my blood started to boil and I pointed my finger at him and yelled, "hey, you're that con artist! I just read about you online today!" He changed is tune after that, got all bumbly, and before we knew it he'd disappeared.
I'm very sorry to say I didn't get a pic or a name out of the encounter, but take pride, Jack, you've already saved 3 kids from this guy!

HAHAHA! Even if you didn't get a photo, your story's priceless, Stephanie! I hope more folks react in just the same way. If Jack never gets to publish the guy's mug, the reaction (like yours) should be enough to to cause the con to seek greener pastures.

Maybe the Trib will pick up the story if Jack gets a photo.

I had an encounter on SW Broadway with a tall, young, chubby man. He spoke convincingly as if he were mentally impaired. He said he was having a hard time surviving on the streets. I gave him money, and he swaggered away. That swagger told me I'd just been had. He was so proud of himself, he couldn't help it, I guess. This might have been 2 years ago. I wonder if anyone out there has had a similar experience?

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.

Hahaha... as a runner myself, I've had a few similar incidents, and there's nothing like a confrontation to get you jacked to finish your run.

But good for you. Running (oh yeah, I'm making puns now) into people he's fleeced must be this guys biggest fear.

I ran into this xharacter Sat on the corner of Denver and Interstate. Same song same dance....I asked him whey he did not ask the people who he was doing the flooring for to front him some money to get home. Ha Ha At that he said thanks and walked off, I told my daugher and boyfriend abvout it a few minutes later and he looked at me wide eyed and said a friend of his had the ssame guy apporach him. They emailed me this tonight and sure enough htere was his picture. We need to gt this guy off the streets.


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