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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 25, 2007 3:35 AM. The previous post in this blog was "Welches" con man on KGW News tonight!. The next post in this blog is Just checking. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

His name is David

Thanks to Kyle Iboshi at KGW, Margie Boulé at the O, and especially the readers of this blog, we now know more about Portland's "Welches stolen truck" con man than we ever dreamed of knowing.

It turns out that our visions of a wily scam artist who's amassing a fortune out of his clever sob story do not entirely match the reality. Indeed, except for his unusual tactics and stunning skills, it's a sadly familiar tale. As told by more than one reader, it goes like this:

The con man's name is David. He's an Oregon native in his early 40s. He has a very common last name, which isn't really important unless you're a police officer or a mental health worker who wants to get involved -- and if you are, just e-mail us and we'll give it to you. David is a personable, intelligent man who had a legitimate life going for a while.

Then, according to our readers, he got into drugs and trashed everything. Nowadays apparently he's homeless, at least in the summer, and he goes in and out of rehab when it gets too cold to sleep under a bridge. He'd rather con than work. Much of the cash he gets from rubes like me on Portland streets, they say, goes for drugs.

There's lots more, but why go into it? The real question now is, "So what? Homeless guy with a drug habit, stealing to get what he craves. That ain't much of a story." And there ain't much that The System is going to be able to do to help a guy like that, especially if he doesn't want help.

In this case, though, it's such a waste. Such a waste.

Last week, we wanted this guy locked up, and the key thrown away. Given the silence we're hearing from the authorities about his case, we seriously doubt that anything like that is going to happen. Nor is our slipshod mental health "system" likely to be of much avail. The next chapter? We wish we knew.

The story probably isn't going to have a happy ending. A reader pointed out that he was still out there, telling his canned lie word for word, by the Safeway downtown last night just before midnight.

At least we can all refrain from playing any further part in the tragic outcome. Don't give David the money he wants to destroy himself any further.

Comments (32)

His biggest crime isn't that he "steals by deception" or whatever lame misdemeanor he could be charged with.

His biggest crime is he contributes to an atmosphere of cynicism that keeps someone who might really need help from getting it. His behavior hardens our hearts, and diminishes all of us in the process.

From what I have read, there are ample grounds to get him off the streets. The problem, of course, is that we have nowhere else to put him. And so our "open air mental health treatment system" rolls on.

I wish we as a city cared more about the damage done by a guy like this than we did about Homer Williams's money.

I must admit, that I too, gave him money.
And so did my stepfather, bless his soul.
We laugh about it now and put it on my list of bad experiences and lesson I have learned.
This guy will get his punishment one day.

he got into drugs and trashed everything

That pretty much nails it. You want to tell your teenagers a story tonight, tell them his.

Good work, Jack, but I doubt very much that "Portland's finest" will be at all interested in this story, because arresting a con man does not permit the ass-kicking and wearing of ninja gear that make being a "peace" officer so much fun. No adrenaline rush, you see.

I predict that this time next year, he'll still be downtown, and using the same line.

Finally, a photo of 'Dave'. This is the same guy that approached me 5-7 years ago in the PSU area late one night as I left the Waterfront Blues Festival. Amazing that he is using the EXACT same line and continues to get away with it. Don't people listen or read the news. I contacted Marge Boule when she did her column last year and she added my story to the many.

It seems that nobody, other than the victims, feels compelled to try to stop this and at the same time, possibly help the guy. Do we feel sorry for drug addicts/homeless people who take advantage of others or do we just not know how to confront it? A strange societal dynamic if you ask me.

Thanks for the forum to communicate this.

"Another sucker who hasn't trusted anyone as much since he met 'Dave'"

Wow, this has been a very interesting dialog, Jack. I'm amazed at how many people have been taken by Dave and how you actually found out this much about him. Kind of at a loss for words here because I can't think of a good suggestion for next steps...

Ironically, he looks just like the guy that they arrested for those failed liquor store robberies in PDX. Thanks for the heads up about him.

at the risk of being cliche, i remember a great episode of Kung Fu back in the 70's:

two boys are entrusted with a valuable item and told to take it to the next village, traveling by themselves.

they set out on the road, and soon thieves first cleverly deceive, then rob and beat them up, leaving them to return empty-handed and ashamed back to the monastery.

unperturbed, the head monk asks them: "what have you learned?"

the first boy says: "trust no one!"

the second boy says: "expect the unexpected."

this was a test for the boys; one of them was asked to leave the monastery and not return. guess which one?

Thanks for bringing attention to one of the health issues in Portland, represented by this case study, that could still use some improving.

Take a look at the picture of this robber - I think it's the same guy.

"His biggest crime is he contributes to an atmosphere of cynicism that keeps someone who might really need help from getting it. His behavior hardens our hearts, and diminishes all of us in the process."

..and also:

"the first boy says: "trust no one!"

the second boy says: "expect the unexpected."

I don't know if the ORS actually has a statute of "contribut(ing) to an atmosphere of cynicism", but I hope this experience has hardened everybody hearts.

If you still don't have a personal policy of NEVER giving any stranger any cash on the street, please institute that policy asap. If you feel compelled to give away your personal money, please convert it to the claimed for need first. (ie If they need gas money, and are carrying a gas can prop, offer to go with them to the gas station to fill it up. If they say they need money for food, offer to buy it for them at the nearest fast food joint. Any serious person in need will love the company you provide while you walk with them to get the gas or food.) Those people who would prefer your cash rather than the food or gas they claim to want, will move on to the next rube.

My favorite intersection sign was: "I am homeless and need money for booze. At least I am honest about it." I smiled and gave him the thumbs up sign, but no money.

I am not anti-charity, but I do try to be smart about it. The same goes for those boiler-room operations that solicit funds for the Brotherhood of Police, and the Fireman Fund outfits. I always ask them how much of my $10 donation actually goes to the Policeman or Fireman, and how much goes to the marketing and fundraising expenses? The answer they give is about $2 for the Policeman or Fireman and $8 to the fundraising outfit. Tell them that you NEVER give money (or commitments for donations) over the phone, but that you would be glad to get their liturature in the mail, and review it thoroughly before deciding to give any money. Like the street bums, they almost always hangup and call the next rube.

There is never a shortage of gullable people. That is why Dave will get more money today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, and next year. Yes, using the exact same story.

To my eye the con man and the robber are not the same person.

With apologies to the "rubes", at least this dude lessens, if not eliminates, his part of the tax burden of the rest of us.

Maybe a little taxpayer-financed "outreach" will help augment his income. After all, guv's de facto symbiotic function is to cultivate reliance on it for every little thang.

...there's one born....

ran into a guy about 7:30 Twesday evening with same Welches routine. Said his name was Jim Rau ?- But was shaven with coat and tie.
I just repeated the name he gave and walked off.

he got into drugs and trashed everything

That pretty much nails it. You want to tell your teenagers a story tonight, tell them his.

Seriously, homeless people don't have ONE problem.

There are plenty of drug users who hold down jobs or even run multi-million dollar CEO-type positions. So let's not start beating the Drug War drum too hard.

ran into a guy about 7:30 Twesday evening with same Welches routine.

Maybe that's the best way to fight this guy -- flood the streets with dozens of people using the same story!

I was trying to sell condos in Welches (Rippling River Resort) 25 years ago.

Ever heard of Welches . . it is nice place, here, please take one of my colorful flyers. Call me.

10 !!!!! years ago, I lived on Weidler and Broadway, was approached by this man, minus the beard with a similar story ( his wallet had been stolen out of his truck...he lived in Welches, etc. When I questioned him as to WHY he left his wallet in his truck ,he took off....My friend gave him money once and was again approached at the Hollywood US Bank but knew better then.

"...flood the streets with dozens of people using the same story!"

We could fix the streets with the proceeds.

"If you still don't have a personal policy of NEVER giving any stranger any cash on the street, please institute that policy asap."

You know, I'm going to go out on a limb and disagree with this.

This is exactly the right advice if your only priority is making sure you are never, ever a sucker. But here's the thing: as I alluded to earlier, I recently lost my wallet. While in New York. On a trip. For several days.

Now, I happened to have friends in New York, but what if I hadn't? I had no cash. I had no ATM card, because I had to cancel it. I had no credit cards, because I had to cancel them. I had my checkbook, but without ID, nobody would cash a check for me. In this age of identity theft, neither my bank nor my credit card company would send me a replacement card anywhere but at my home address, one was home.

I wound up borrowing money from friends for the remainder of the time I was in town, but even that was not enough. I had a hotel reservation that was running out, and I was moving to a new hotel, which -- you guessed it -- wouldn't put me in a room without a credit card.

I had to call a friend to put the room on his credit card and go through a whole mess of paperwork via fax, just so I'd have somewhere to sleep.

I'm not suggesting strangers could have resolved all these problems. I'm just saying that I had a Metrocard with me that was good for unlimited rides for the rest of the week, but if that had been in my lost wallet, I would have needed money just to get on the subway to go anywhere. And yes, one of the things I would have tried, if it came to that, would have been asking someone, and I would have had to hope that someone would take a risk on me and spot me two bucks. Otherwise...what options did I have?

You still have the option of choosing very rare instances when you may decide to risk a dollar or two to help someone, and yes, you might be a sucker. But you might not. And if you're not, then you're doing a good deed. I'm just saying that...I don't know if I'd make an absolute, impenetrable rule.

P.S. I was shocked at how easy it was to get on the plane home without a driver's license, as long as I had my work ID with my picture on it. I dreaded that all week, and it was cake.

Remember when it comes to being approached on the street by someone asking
for money: The longer the story, the more
likely it's a scam.

My husband and I ran into this charmer about a year or so ago. Usual story, Welches, Oregon, truck stolen, will send you the money, own a Harwood flooring company, etc. What can I say, we fell for it. We won't be running to help anyone out in the foreseeable future.

Just to add to the pathos, readers tell me that he indeed once was a flooring contractor and indeed once did live in Welches.

"Just to add to the pathos, readers tell me that he indeed once was a flooring contractor and indeed once did live in Welches."

Kinda reminds me of O.J....he's one of those guys who mixes enough fantasy with reality that he kinda sorta blends it all together and begins to actually believe in the lie much so that others believe him hook, line and sinker. Maybe in another life he was a famous actor...who knows? Maybe he really did have his truck stolen, or a neighbor did, and this is all just the same sad story repeated a 1000 times, over and over?

We are all just dust in wind spiraling through the cosmos if you really think about it. There's no fun in kicking a dead horse...or a live one, unless you're a sadist of course. Not such a big fan of the sadists myself.

For now, I'll just say a prayer in my own way that this guy gets his s**t straight and gets himself squared away. Maybe in the end it's a prayer for all of us...

There are plenty of drug users who hold down jobs or even run multi-million dollar CEO-type positions. So let's not start beating the Drug War drum too hard.

Maybe so. But eventually everything will come to a head. Guaranteed. You cant go down that road and end up at a good place.

About five years ago, on a warm summer night, a clean cut man approached my husband and I as we were unloading our groceries. Same stolen wallet, same stolen truck, same story about getting back to Welches. I'm from the big city and know better, but my husband - the kindest soul in the world - gave him $20. "I own a hardwood flooring company with my brother" he said. "It's called Integrity Hardwoods - we'll give you a good deal" ...

Got me too. 600 block of North Killingsworth about a week ago. Same schpeal even. I regretfully gave him two dollars even after Erin said, don't do it, this guy is a con. The story just didn't add up. But he said, "Look at me, I'm not from around here." And pointed to his nice shoes and well, for a floor installer, he was pretty damn clean.

Glad you got a picture of him.
Thats definately him. Damn it.

People are murdered out there on that street, still, even now that N Kill & Albina is all gentrified. I'm genuinely surprised that the con-man would even try to front his BS there.

Every time I go into the Paragon to pick up a customer, there is some crackhead in the parking lot who has forgotten me who starts in with the spiel...everyone just ignores them.

The people in that area are world-hard when it comes to scam artists and scumbags.

Mr. have some faith in humanity has truly fallen on hard times if he is workin' it up there...

Sometimes I go out myself on a night off to a bar along N Killingsworth. Can't wait to have a conversation with this gentleman, a real slow-burner.

This guy has been around for years. He got me for $10 about 5 years ago. He was working out of a motor home at that time parked near the Rose Garden. Poor guy, his tranny had gone out. Just needed a few bucks to get his rig towed to the shop.

I knew he was a fraud but wanted to believe otherwise. Plus I had just been paid and had some cash. Yes its true what they say about a fool and his/her money!!!

8 years ago I lived near NE 14th and Weidler. My boyfriend and I were walking home when approached by a guy needing money to get home. Looked alot like David but clean-shaven. We offered to give him a ride and he said "No thanks" and walked off.

About 2 weeks later I'm in the same area with my mom driving home. Same guy, same story approached her window - she started to get money out of her purse and I stopped her when I recognized him and drove away. When I got home I called the police to report him, they took down my info but didn't seem very interested.

It is pretty amazing to me that this story has been working for him for years and years.

Repetition is the mother of invention. This guy milks this principle in a small time way. What alarms me much more are the pros. When you take into account the fact, 9,000,000 identity thefts per year, by really clever con artists, this man's scamming seems petty and insignificant indeed.

Check out some of these big times scams. You'll see what I mean.


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